Tuesday, June 1, 1999

Tons of trash tallied
during coastal cleanup

By Pete Pichaske
Phillips News Service


WASHINGTON -- What has 53,892 cigarette butts, 10,665 glass bottles, two 4-cylinder Volkswagen engines, one toilet seat, two bras, an air conditioner and a stove?

Hawaii's beaches, of course.

The butts, bottles and bras were part of a mountain of litter picked from Hawaii's beaches, marshes and shallow waters last fall during the annual International Coastal Cleanup.

In all, volunteers picked up 227,759 pounds of trash, said state cleanup coordinator Chris Woolaway, an extension agent with the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant College Program.

"And that doesn't include a lot of the work done where cards didn't get filled out" so the litter wasn't officially counted, added Woolaway. In the Kaiwainui Marsh in Kailua, for example, volunteers picked up tons of debris but failed to fill out data cards.

The intercoastal cleanup is an annual affair sponsored by the Center for Marine Conservation, a national organization that protects beaches and waterways.

Results of the national cleanup, which involved 160,000 volunteers who collected 3 million pounds of debris from beaches across the country,were released this week. Hawaii's many beaches help make its annual cleanup one of the nation's largest, and last year was no exception. The cleanup in the isles attracted 4,229 volunteers who patrolled a total of 153 miles of beaches and waterways on every island.

The volunteers found some unusual items. Besides the above-mentioned oddities, they collected a bag of marijuana, a toupee, two shopping carts, a hand truck, a car bumper, a bowling ball and a Christmastree.

But by far the most common piece of trash -- as in previous years -- was the cigarette butt.

"People don't realize that cigarette butts stick around," said Woolaway. "They just flick them wherever they are. A lot of people think they're biodegradable. But a lot of butts have acetate, a plastic."

Nationally and locally, most of the beach trash came from inland sources rather than the water.

Fifty-three percent of the trash collected in Hawaii, and nearly 60 percent of the trash collected nationwide, came from the land.

This year's beach cleanup in Hawaii is set for Sept. 19, said Woolaway, and volunteers are already signing up to help.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Woolaway at (808) 956-2872.


The most common items found on Hawaii beaches in the annual International Coastal Cleanup:

Bullet Cigarette butts, 53,892
Bullet Plastic pieces, 19,022
Bullet Glass pieces, 17,222
Bullet Glass beverage bottles, 10,665
Bullet Paper pieces, 9,079
Bullet Plastic food bags/wrappers, 8,849
Bullet Other plastic items, 8,591
Bullet Foamed plastic pieces, 8,462
Bullet Beverage cans, 7,980
Bullet Plastic caps/lids, 7,613
Bullet Plastic beverage bottles, 6,122
Bullet Metal bottle caps, 5,221

Source: Center for Marine Conservation

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