Environmentalists tackle offshore trash

 UPDATED 6:27 AM HST Jul 05, 2012
Waikiki Flotilla Cleanup
HONOLULU -

When Kahi Pacarro heard about all the trash generated by last year's Fourth of July Flotilla party offshore of Waikiki, he had an idea – collect garbage as the party is in full swing, rather than the day after.

"A light bulb went off in my head and said, 'Hey, we got to do something about this; be proactive so that we can sustain not only this coastline, but the event of the flotilla itself,'" said Pacarro.

Thus, the co-mingling of environmentalism and party-going was born. Pacarro and 11 other members of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii gathered on Waikiki Beach Wednesday with a 5-foot by 10-foot iMat serving as the perfect platform for their trash-fighting endeavor.

"We put six garbage cans on top, tied them up, and cinched them down so they can't tip over," explained Pacarro. "We're going to be traveling around the event picking up trash and bringing it and putting it onto the main vessel."

The flotilla has become as much a part of the Fourth of July in Waikiki as fireworks and cookouts. As many as 1,500 people were expected to converge a few hundred yards offshore of the Duke Kahanamoku statue on anything that floats – inner tubes, kayaks and rafts.

However, many of the flotilla party-goers also bring coolers filled with cans, bottles and other items, which can easily sink to the bottom of the ocean or wind up on the beach.

"We're just trying to keep everything out of the sea, and it's part of what we do," said Liana Ho, another Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii member. "It's not about just having fun, but keeping our country clean."

The greatest challenge for the enterprising environmentalists was keeping their trash cans in place through the waist to head-high surf. In the end, the platform made it through the rising south swell without a hitch.

"We're taking pretty good precautions," said Ho. "We have our weights in our trash barrels to keep that kind of stabilized, (and) everything's kind of tied down real tight."

The environmental group will head back to Waikiki on Thursday to look for trash underneath the waves. Hawaii Eco Divers has volunteered time and resources to hunt for any items from the floating party that may have slipped below the surface.

"They've donated equipment (and) trained some of our guys that didn't know how to scuba dive," said Pacarro. "We're really thankful for them, and we're going to try to pick up anything else that's left over."

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