Keeping the butts off the beach
NUMEROUS environmental cleanups take place throughout the year in Hawaii, yet none are quite like this Saturday's "Get the Drift and Bag It."
This marine debris cleanup is not only an annual statewide event; it is part of the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup to remove trash and debris from the world's beaches and waterways.
According to the Conservancy's report on 2006, more than 350,000 volunteers around the world scoured nearly 35,000 miles of shoreline and removed some 7 million pounds of trash.
In our state alone 2,036 participants removed an incredible 42,163 pounds of debris from 120 miles of what should be Hawaii's pristine shorelines.
And the Conservancy and its volunteers don't just pick up litter; they also identify the debris and its source, which they hope will lead to finding ways of changing the behaviors that caused the pollution to begin with.
Virtually every piece of litter bagged is identified, counted and recorded on data cards that, when compiled and analyzed, create a graphic picture of who and what is to blame.
It was noted in the Conservancy's last report that land-based activities in Hawaii such as picnics, festivals, sports, beach outings and the litter washed from streets and parking lots into storm drains accounted for 48 percent of the collected debris.
The second-largest source of pollution -- 40 percent -- came from smoking-related activities in the form of cigarette and cigar butts, filters and tobacco packaging.
Together, those two categories accounted for the vast majority of all the debris collected last year along our beaches and waterways.
In comparison, the debris collected and identified as originating from ocean- and waterway-based activities was a mere 9.4 percent. That's something to remember when visiting any of our state's marinas: The floating trash you see most likely didn't come from the boaters.
As anyone might guess after seeing the "drifts" of cigarette butts along most of our roadways, smokers may be our society's worst litterbugs. Volunteers picked up more than 63,600 cigarettes and filters last year.
Fast-food fans who fail to properly dispose of the containers are apparently runners-up to the smokers, as the second-most numerous items with a little more than 37,000 food wrappers, caps and lids.
If spending a morning collecting this sort of litter in the Ala Wai Harbor area -- as well as collecting statistical data with the folks from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- is something you might have time for, why not consider volunteering?
The meeting place will be the Waikiki Yacht Club, at the entrance to Ala Moana Park, and the cleanup will last from 8 to 11 a.m. Volunteers are advised to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a visor or hat, closed-toe shoes and bottled water.
For more information call Michelle Pendleton at 808-255-7891.