Plastic pollution in the ocean continues to be a big problem washing up on Hawaii's shores. In an attempt to protect the 'big blue,' Sustainable Coastlines, along with several other non-profit organizations and volunteers, took advantage of the long holiday weekend to tackle the growing problem.
"It's mind blowing how much there is," volunteer Katie Ziemann said. "Just driving on the east side it's coming up more and more everyday."
With the help of Turtle Bay Resort, volunteers came together and sorted through large piles of marine debris, attempting to get as much plastic waste permanently out of the ocean and landfills.
"Versus it just going to the incinerator or landfill.. we give it multiple more lives through recycling," Sustainable Coastline's executive director Kahi Pacarro said.
Pacarro says all of the debris was collected in the past six months from Oahu's shorelines, along with the National Marine Monument Papahanaumokuakea.
"Based on our experience this is over a 100,000 pounds of marine debris that has been collected, and this is just a drop in the bucket," Pacarro said.
"We're sorting through things like trash, glass, bottle caps, plastic bottles," 12-year-old volunteer, Zahara Hahn added.
Pulling out the recyclable plastic materials from the piles of marine debris, volunteers loaded two 40-foot containers. According to Pacarro, once filled, both containers will be sent to Schnitzer Steel where the plastic will be broken down into smaller pieces and then sent to the mainland for recycling.
"This plastic can be recycled into almost anything that you make out of plastic.. that your not going to eat out of.. but what we try to do is focus on things that are really high value, so high end sunglasses or furniture.. and things like that, so it brings more awareness and more value to marine debris.. so that maybe people become more sensitized to pick it up," Pacarro said.
Because there is much more marine debris out there, volunteers say there is still a lot of work left to be done.
"It's a never-ending job.. and really getting out here can raise awareness," Ziemann added.
The next scheduled Sustainable Coastlines Cleanup will be held on Kauai at Kalapaki Bay Memorial Park on January 27th. For more information, click here.
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