HONOLULU(KHON2)–Though the piles of micro plastics that inundated Kailua Beach last week have been removed, the area is still littered with tiny particles. It may not look like much at first glance, but it adds up and it still needs to be removed.
“We’ve gotten at least 5,000 pounds of plastic off of the beach in one week so I’m really proud of everybody for stepping up. What’s left are all the real tiny, tiny pieces just stuck, imbedded in the sand,” Jason Hills said. Hills lives nearby the area known as Shorebreak along Kailua Bay that he said recently saw the largest influx of micro plastics to date.
Hills said when the tide brings in huge amounts its easier to scoop out and get rid of but when there are only the tiny, spread out particles, it’s much harder because they fall right through the sifters.
Kahi Pacarro, a board member from Sustainable Coastlines said Kailua beach isn’t the only beach affected.
“The entire eastern coastline of the entire state is ravaged with onshore winds that bring in all the micro plastics, big plastics and other garbage.”
Hills said that certain conditions make it worse.
“When we have those high tides, high winds, and the full moon with the tide, it always brings in a massive influx of (micro plastics). But on any given day it’s washing up. It’s always out in the shore break here. It’s always at the high tide line even when we’re not having massive high tide events,” Hills explained.
To combat the problem Sustainable Coastlines and several other organizations are holding two cleanups on Monday starting at 8:30A.M.
“The first is going to be out at the Kahuku, James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge and the second will be at Kailua Beach,” Pacarro explained.
But where are all the micro plastics washing on our shorelines coming from?
According to studies by the World Economic Forum, at least 90 percent of all the plastics we see in the ocean come from just 10 rivers in the world. Eight of those rivers are in China.
Although there are other countries generating more plastic pollution than the United States, Hills said we shouldn’t just point the finger.
“We need to do what we can to stop this plastic tap. We’re using it. It’s out there. It’s ending up here. Anything we can do to help we should be doing,” Hills said.
“We have to look at what we’re buying every day and how we’re creating the market that forces companies to go and look for the cheap labor and lax environmental rules such as China,” Pacarro said.
The city council passed bill 40 in December, which will phase out the use of all plastic bags and polystyrene foodware over the next two years.
Pacarro said that although it won’t help what is already out there, it’s a step in the right direction.
Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the committee of agriculture and the environment, said that he will reintroduce a law that will prevent the state from buying single-use plastic water bottles. He calls it his “lead by example” law.