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Maui volunteers to attack a global problem: ocean trash

By Staff | Sep 18, 2014

Volunteers collected bags of litter along the shoreline in Olowalu during last year’s “Get the Drift & Bag It!” PHOTO COURTESY OF MALAMA MAUI NUI.

LAHAINA – Coordinators of coastal cleanup projects in Lahaina and on the global level say the bigger the turnout, the larger the impact of the event.

Volunteers are sought to clean beaches here and around the island on Saturday, Sept. 20, in two major events.

The tenth annual Lahaina Town Cleanup is set for 9 a.m. to noon, with crews organizing at Kamehameha Iki Park next to 505 Front Street.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring gloves, water bottles, litter grabbers, small nets for cigarette butts, trucks to haul rubbish, and, “most of all, tell any group of friends you can! The bigger the better,” noted coordinator Matt Lane on the project’s Facebook page at “https://www.facebook.com/events/392578150869657/”>www.facebook.com/events/392578150869657/.

Participants are also welcome to bring surfboards, canoes and paddles to celebrate the voyaging canoe Mo’olele’s 39th birthday.

Participants in the Lahaina Town Cleanup pluck garbage from the beach south of Lahaina Harbor. In the last nine years, event organizer Matt Lane estimates “… we have had way over 1,000 participants, cleaned up well over 40,000 pounds of rubbish and insane amounts of cigarette butts!”

Volunteers will also collect debris and data on Saturday during the 29th annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), here in Hawaii dubbed “Get the Drift & Bag It!”

This global event, organized by the Ocean Conservancy each fall, mobilizes volunteers to take action for the ocean by cleaning up debris and by documenting the types and quantities removed.

The data is added to the international database that helps the conservancy track progress and problem areas in the fight against trash worldwide.

Locally, the ICC is coordinated by Keep the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful.

“In 2013, globally, 650,000 volunteers from 92 countries picked up 12.3 million pounds of trash, which demonstrates the more people who come out, the bigger an impact we can have,” said Nicholas Mallos, a marine debris specialist at the Ocean Conservancy.

“Ocean trash truly is a global problem that affects human health and safety, endangers marine wildlife and costs states and nations countless millions in wasted resources and lost revenue. At its core, however, ocean trash is not an ocean problem; it’s a people problem perpetuated by the often unwilling practices that industry and people have adopted over time,” said Ocean Conservancy President and CEO Andreas Merkl.

Volunteers are sought – individually or as part of a group. To sign up for a cleanup, or for more information, contact Malama Maui Nui (formerly Community Work Day) at 877-2524 or volunteer@cwdhawaii.org.