Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, December 22, 1998

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Star Bulletin reporters Cynthia Oi and Tim Ryan too often
found the beauty of Oahu's shoreline marred by heaps
of litter on their circle-island trek.

Full circle

Walk around Oahu
yields insights

Walking Stories


Miles walked: 143.9
Days walked: 14

By Cynthia Oi


We are pigs.

Evidence of this was apparent in our 14-day walk around the island that ended Wednesday.

Trash in all forms -- plate-lunch containers, plastic grocery bags, condoms, disposable diapers, beer and soda cans, syringes, fast-food wrappers, drink cups with and without straws, rusting refrigerators and ranges, tissues, cars, hibachis, gift wrapping, TV sets, ratty sofas and thousands of cigarette butts -- covers roads, parks and shoreline from downtown Honolulu to Kailua to the North Shore and the Leeward coast.

By Kathryn Bender , Star-Bulletin

Stanley Hironaka, with his bike full of fishing
gear, checks out conditions at Ala Moana Beach park..

By Kathryn Bender , Star-Bulletin

In 1995, the state agency that used to handle litter problems was dissolved because of budget cuts. But the problem is beyond what government can solve. The mess that disfigures our island's beauty is of our own making; one of us tossed that plastic bag, that soda can, that cigarette butt.

What makes a decent person heave a paper cup into the sand or out a car window?

Lack of education, says Jan Dapitan, director of the Community Work Day program, a nonprofit group working with government agencies, businesses, civic groups and citizens to control litter in the islands.

And, she says, "When the state cut the Litter Control Office, that sent a message to people that the state didn't care about litter."

All it takes is one Styrofoam plate on the road, or a trash can spilling over in a park; seeing that gives people an excuse to follow suit because someone else littered before they did, she said.

Set a good example, help pick up litter

If you want to help with litter, here are some numbers to call:

bullet Clean up and education: 1-808-877-2524, Jan Dapitan, director, Community Work Day

bullet Report litter:
Bullet City complaint office, 523-4381
Bullet State Department of Land and Natural Resources, enforcement hotline, 587-0077
Bullet State highway maintenance hotline: 831-6714

bullet Bulky item pickups:
Bullet Honolulu (Foster Village to Kalama Valley), 523-4685 or 523-4424
Bullet Aiea-Pearl City-Ewa, 455-1725
Bullet Kailua-Waimanalo, 262-4346
Bullet Kaneohe, 247-3553
Bullet Laie, 293-5657
Bullet Wahiawa-Mililani, 621-5241
Bullet Haleiwa-Waialua, 637-4795
Bullet Waianae, 696-3421

Whatever the reasons, the trash was shocking. Seeing it while walking also made a difference; a pile of rubbish that flashes by when you're in a car doesn't seem to register as vividly as picking your way across it.

One person who knows this is Jane Bills, an engaging Waikiki resident who turned 83 Friday. Armed with a metal-pointed staff and small basket of wire that sifts butts from sand, she patrols San Souci Beach every morning. Her friend, Marie Fujii, has rigged plastic bottles to nearby park benches so smokers have a place to dispose of the butts.

"This is a lovely family beach," she said, explaining her public service. "I don't like to see it in a mess."

Bills and Fujii have taken it upon themselves to do what they can to keep things clean. Maybe we could all adopt a similar attitude.

Trash aside, Oahu is a beautiful place to live. The beaches, when you can get to them, invite swimming and lazy strolls, while the verdant mountain ranges rise in a backdrop to the spreading plains between them.

By Kathryn Bender , Star-Bulletin

Buckey Kinin had just finished making this lobster net.

Walking day after day no matter the weather gave us a connection to the natural world that still remains between houses, strip malls and crowded roadways.

For my co-walker Tim Ryan, the best stretch was Kaena Point, the worst, Nimitz Highway. For me, the best was Makua to Maili, the worst, Kalanianaole Highway.

The most valuable of walking memories, however, was the people we met along the way. There were many who proved that one-on-one, face-to-face, islanders are really nice.

Among the kindnesses of strangers:

bullet Tom, manager of a Texaco gas station and mini-mart in Kahaluu, who after advising against leaving a car at a regional park, let me leave it in his parking lot. While saying he couldn't be responsible for my car, he said he'd keep an eye on it.

bullet The people who offered rides to Tim as he headed past the Kaiwi Coast, to me as I walked through Kahuku and Makaha. We, of course, didn't accept.

bullet The scores of drivers and their passengers who waved and honked their horns in encouragement, especially the woman who flashed a shaka and called out "way to go, sistah," near Maili. There was only one driver -- a fellow in a maroon Ford van -- who yelled at me to "get off the road" near Makapuu.

bullet The woman in Mokuleia who stopped her yard work to share a glass of iced tea.

bullet The Waiahole man, who provided lemon cookies, a glass fishing float (a souvenir, he said) and a clean restroom.

bullet The police officer who checked on my car twice in four hours at Malaekahana and left a note on my windshield, telling me when he had come by, that everything "looked OK," and wished me luck.

bullet The vendors near Kawela Bay who dashed across the highway to give me a bunch of apple bananas.

bullet The elderly man in Waimanalo who picked tangerines from his tree because "you need the juice."

bullet Wayne Kaneshiro of Makaha Drive-In who insisted on giving "the newspaper office" a chocolate cream pie (it was ono!).

So after about 140 miles of Walking Stories, we came away with tired legs, two blackened toes (Tim's), a callous (mine) and a wonder-filled sense of the island we call home.

A Navajo prayer, though symbolic, embraces eloquently the joy of walking:

"In beauty may I walk.
"All day long may I walk.
"Through the returning seasons may I walk...
"...With dew about my feet may I walk.
"With beauty before me may I walk.
"With beauty behind me may I walk.
"With beauty above me may I walk.
"In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
"In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk."

See: Treat your feet to good walking shoes

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