HONOLULU (KHON2) — Steps are being taken to keep Oahu’s illegal dumping problem in check, from opening a convenience center on Friday, Oct. 27 to cleaning up a popular path on Saturday, Oct. 28.
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City and County, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam officials and volunteers from over 12 organizations removed trash and debris from the Pearl Harbor Bike Path on Saturday.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said community cleanups are not often the most publicized events.
“But we know when you do it, you know what you’re trying to get done,” Blangiardi said, “that it matters. “So, the fact that you’re here, please know it’s deeply appreciated.”
Volunteers set up in 11 different locations from Halawa to Waipahu. The Pearl City High School Interact Club told KHON2 that one particular area was once filled with dumped tires, bikes and even drug paraphernalia.
“But we found that once you kind of restore an area like this, less of that stuff tends to happen because they don’t want to come to an area that’s nice and clean,” Pearl City High School Interact Club advisor Dane Souza said.
KHON2 asked if it was hard work.
“Yeah,” Pearl City High School Interact Club vice president Andie Shimizu said, “but it’s pretty fulfilling because there’s a lot less trash than there was when we started.”
Participants said they still have their work cut out for them, but they have made some serious headway.
“Once they actually see themselves making a change, they kind of get addicted to it and they start coming out more and more,” Souza said.
The nonprofit Malama Puuloa is creating a native food-producing garden just down the road near Lehua Elementary School — the area was commonly used as an area for illegal dumping.
“Oh, it was full. Very, very full,” Malama Puuloa, lead field tech Brailey Hirose-Hulbert said. “Like we found very large pieces of trash, you know, car parts, huge chunks of glass, there’s even some remnants of broken fences.”
They have refurbished the soil with mulch and began planting potatoes, oranges and more, but keeping the area green is a hands-on activity.
“And that speaks to a larger situation, right? There is no active irrigation along the bike path so to cultivate a space with — let a lone a food space — would necessitate that,” Hirose-Hulbert said, “these water jugs though? That’s what I mean, we hand water, we have a little wheelbarrow in the back there.”
Maintaining the path is an ongoing, years-long project, but anything helps.
“It doesn’t hurt to try like one hour of community service and it will still do a lot with just an hour,” Shimizu said.
Click here for more information on how to get involved with Malama Puuloa