A shocking amount of microplastics washed on shore at Kailua Bay

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HONOLULU(KHON2)–A popular Windward beach littered with mounds and mounds of microplastics. Though the issue isn’t a new one, the amount of debris that washed onshore overnight is shocking according to residents.

Jason Hills lives in Kailua and said he often removes rubbish and mircroplastics from a stretch of beach known as Shorebreak along Kailua Bay.

Hills said that the debris usually washes ashore whenever there are heavy winds, large surf and high tides, but he said nothing could have prepared him for what he saw when he walked out to the beach at dawn Friday morning..

“I’ve seen it really, really bad but never like this. This is just incredible,” Hills said as he stood in front of several two foot high piles of microplastics that he collected from the beach over the last four hours.

Hills picked up a handful of microplastics from the pile.

“Five years ago we would come down in we would find this much plastic in a little sifter and that was shocking. And now this is the new shocking,” Hills said as he pointed to the two foot high mound in front of him.

Kainoa Young was surfing and stopped to help clean up.

“It’s everywhere,” Young said holding a small fishing net full of mircroplastics.

“It’s even out past the (surf). There’s a bunch of microplastics floating everywhere. It’s pretty sad to see.”

What’s worse is Hills said that the piles of debris they’ve collected don’t even come close to touching what’s still on the beach and floating in the water.

The fact that the particles are so tiny makes it even more difficult to clean up and dangerous for the environment.

Rafael Bergstrom, Executive Director Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii said that plastic contaminates the environment on many levels.

“We’re ingesting plastics every day,” Bergstrom explained. “A new study shows that we are ingesting a credit card worth of plastic every week just through drinking water or breathing air.”

Bergstrom said that the particles and larger garbage are also being eaten by marine animals, which often times kills them.

So how do we fix this?

Bergstrom said its a matter of changing our habits.

“It’s our choices that are causing it so we also have the complete opportunity to reverse it by making different choices in our lives.”

Hills said he plans to be back on the beach at Shorebreak Saturday morning around 8A.M. to try to remove all of the microplastics they collected in piles Friday. Anyone who wants to go down to help is welcome to join him.

To learn about other volunteer opportunities and ways to get involved with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii go to sustainablecoastlineshawaii.org

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