Hawaii is beautiful, you already got that part. These emerald jewels float on the sapphire blue Pacific. And most of our island home is very pristine.
You’ve probably heard stories about plastic floating around the ocean, fish eating bits of it that look like food, or the shocking images of plastic drinking straws lodged in the nostril of a turtle. And, it’s true, more now than ever.
Visitors to Hawaii rarely glimpse these things. But on a recent sunny day, I signed up for volunteer duty through the South Hilo Rotary to participate in a beach cleanup day through the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. We spent a Saturday retrieving and hauling rubbish off Kamilo Beach near South Point.
The group descended from a spur road at South Point several miles through cattle lands, on bumpy, dusty ranch roads. The coastline is rugged, and along it the roads got even rougher. But, what a magical spot and so important to keep clean.
The spot is something like Hawaii’s great ocean dust pan. The beach scoops more than its share of the world’s floating plastic refuse, just because it hangs on the edge of a great passing current known, rather unfortunately, as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Adults who grew up on the island will tell you visits in their youth to Kamilo Beach met with mounds of plastic, taller than the tallest man stands, never thinking it could be removed. Thanks to the efforts of Hawaii Wildlife Fund, however, much of that has been been properly disposed of by hauling it away to a County transfer station.
Today, the beach is still littered with everything from giant fishing nets, to fish traps, toy dolls, plastic jugs and bottles, fishing line, and an amazing volume of plastic fishing net spacers that used to be made of bamboo and other wood.
Our little band of eco-conscious islanders (and visitors!) hauled away more than two tons of rubbish up the bumpy road from the beach. Our ages ranged from 6 years old to 66 years old, and all hands made a difference.
If you’re looking for a unique, low-cost or no-cost opportunity to make a difference in Hawaii’s environment (with a little time to enjoy the water and beach, too!), reach out to my friends at Hawaii Wildlife Fund to see if their next beach cleanup adventure matches your schedule here. The trip goes through land you’d never otherwise get to experience. Definitely a feels-good experience.
Jeff Calley is a Realtor®, writer and raconteur, affiliated with Elite Pacific Properties on Hawaii’s Big Island. When he’s not showing homes, he can be found in his kitchen, plying his Le Cordon Bleu training with local cuisine, or restraining his weiner dogs from flying over rugged sea cliffs to swim with sea turtles.
Jeff Calley is a Realtor® in East Hawaii, whose background also includes work and management in varied industries, such as travel and tourism, electrical contracting, health care, and on-air broadcast, producing and content management for radio stations in Seattle and Palm Springs. When he's not helping people realize their real estate goals, he keeps busy with website management for AlohaBoysProperties.com as well as other websites. And if there's enough time left over, he photographs and makes video content for real estate websites and Multiple Listing Services. He's presently working on acquiring his commercial drone pilot's license (though he finds it funny that his helicopter pilot's license doesn't qualify!)