Volunteers hold cleanup projects from Olowalu to Honokowai during 16th Lahaina Town Clean-Up
LAHAINA — Our world in 2020 has been tainted by the global pandemic. Many of us are holding on to that community thread that binds us together to celebrate Aloha Aina, our neighbors, our ‘ohana in unexpected and new ways for Lahaina.
We are blessed.
The most recent showing of our West Side pride was on Saturday, Sept. 19, at the 16th annual Lahaina Town Clean-Up. Matt Lane has been one of the organizers of this popular yearly gathering of volunteers the past 16 years with a “core group of teachers, merchants, restaurants, families and individuals,” he said.
“The event was a little different this year due to COVID-19,” Lane explained, “but the results were still impactful. For this year’s cleanup, the community was encouraged to participate in cleanups near their home, with their family members or individually, while practicing all CDC and County of Maui guidelines for masks, gloves and social distancing.”
Volunteer groups spent the day cleaning over 12 square miles of our West Side byways, including streets, harbors and beaches from Olowalu to Honokowai, filling a one-ton trailer with debris collected “most from abandoned campsites along the West Maui shoreline,” Lane observed.
The gathering was a force of good will volunteers, Lane said, “from Maui surf clinics, Maui Preparatory Academy, Lahainaluna High School, Pacific Whale Foundation, Moku Roots and ProService Hawaii.”
There was more.
A group from Sail Maui organized a cleanup at Hanakao’o Beach Park. There was a dive team of ten, led by Ethan Burke, that cleaned underwater along our precious shoreline.
Water was provided by Maui Sustainable Solutions and fruit was donated by Napili Community Garden.
Lane recognized Tambara Garrick from LahainaTown Action Committee and Kristen McFarland from Maui Surf Clinics as well. “They have been an important part of helping make this happen for many years now,” he added.
“This effort was originally organized 16 years ago by local surf schools in Lahaina as a grassroots event in unity with International Coastal Cleanup Day,” Garrick noted.
“As the event has grown to over 500 volunteers annually, LahainaTown Action Committee was honored to step in to help with event planning, logistics and support,” the LAC officer advised.
“It is important for all of us who live and work in Lahaina and across Maui to participate in events such as these that not only work to clean rubbish before it makes its way to the ocean, but also to educate our friends and neighbors on ways to reduce waste and the impacts that it has on our environment,” Garrick affirmed.
There were small branches of the community — businesses and families — extending their cleanup efforts on their own accord. Luis, Kellie, Matias and Paloma Banto joined Lisa and Zolzen Boulsen at Guard Rails.
Luis was saddened to see the leftovers of construction activities thrown carelessly along the roadside.
“Community service is important — a coming together of friends for the greater good,” he said.
ProService contributed with a four-person team, with Garrick at the lead.
“Our job,” Garrick described, “was to pick up fruit from Napili Community Garden and distribute to each location of teams from Olowalu to Kahekili Beach Park and to thank them for coming and congratulate them on their efforts. Along the way, we stopped when safe when we spotted rubbish that we could pick up.” Maui Prep was on the front lines as well.
Its principal, Ryan Kirkham, observed: “Maui Prep students and faculty have participated in the Lahaina Town Clean-Up for many years.
“One of Maui Prep’s ’10 Commitments to Living Aloha’ is malama ‘aina — promoting environmental stewardship. We encourage all our students to actively participate in both formal and informal activities that protect our island home. One of our seniors, Keeana Villamar, led the organization this year for Maui Prep.”
Fabio Maximino of Rio Maui Capoeira and We Paddle Maui is an annual volunteer.
He was proud of his contributions.
“Yes, I was there — me and my kids, Kahi Maximino and Iuna Maximino — and members of the We Paddle Maui ohana.” Maximino is committed.
“Super important to show respect for our aina and our ocean and our people,” he affirmed.
Four members of the Moku Roots crew staked out Olowalu as their kuleana.
“I think it’s important to clean beaches, whether affiliated with a bigger cleanup or not, as respect to the land and beach for being able to enjoy it! It also gives you a great understanding of what kind of stuff is being thrown away or lost on the beaches,” Alexa Caskey said.
“I’ve done a few cleanups just by myself in the same spots since Covid happened and finding more and more trash — which means it’s people who live here — and that’s really disappointing. I wish people cared more about taking care of where they live,” she added.
According to Lane, “This year was tough due to all the personal waste of displaced families and individuals. There are a lot of people sleeping on our shorelines and in their cars.” The cleanup is not a one-day-a-year event.
Garrick invited “everyone to join us next September for the 17th annual Lahaina Town Clean-Up, but you don’t have to wait until then! Organize a beach cleanup with your family or coworkers and see the impact you can make in a short amount of time right here in your community. I promise you will have fun doing it!”