Maui News

Nearly 600 Volunteer for Maui Marine Debris Cleanup Campaign

December 1, 2015, 3:16 PM HST
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Volunteers at the "Get the Drift and Bag It!" Kickoff cleanup at Kahului Harbor September 19. Photo by Bryan Berkowitz

Volunteers at the “Get the Drift and Bag It!” Kickoff cleanup at Kahului Harbor September 19. Photo by Bryan Berkowitz

Nearly 600 volunteers participated in the month-long marine debris cleanup campaign, “Get the Drift and Bag It!” hosted annually by Mālama Maui Nui.

Volunteers conducted cleanups from Sept. 19 through Oct. 17, 2015 along more than 28 miles of Maui beaches and shorelines, collecting thousands of pounds of litter during the effort.

“Get the Drift and Bag It!” is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, the largest annual volunteer-driven marine debris cleanup campaign spearheaded by the Ocean Conservancy.

Organizers say that unique to this cleanup campaign is the data collection completed by the volunteers that quantifies the types and amounts of litter found at each cleanup. Mālama Maui Nui sends the Maui County numbers to the Ocean Conservancy for inclusion in their global Ocean Trash Index.

Volunteers socializing after cleaning up Baldwin Beach Park October 17. Photo by Jen Cox

Volunteers socializing after cleaning up Baldwin Beach Park October 17. Photo by Jen Cox

“Knowing what and where certain items are littered can help fuel the development of future litter prevention initiatives such as Maui County’s ban on tobacco use and tobacco products in County beaches, parks, and other recreational facilities,” organizers said.

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This year, the most commonly-found items in Maui County included: cigarette butts (13,050); plastic pieces (5,756); bottle caps (3,891); food wrappers (3,307); and fireworks (1,748).

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“Mālama Maui Nui shares these numbers in hopes of inspiring greater awareness as to how every day, every individual can take small actions to prevent these items from contaminating Maui Nui’s unique island environment,” organizers said.

“Hawai‘i’s marine ecosystems, while resilient, need consistent attention and care from the community in order to thrive. The ocean provides the basis for many of the beloved cultural and economic activities that keep Hawai‘i’s quality of life afloat,” said representatives with Mālama Maui Nui.

As the Ocean Conservancy states, “a healthy ocean means more than beautiful coasts and vibrant ocean wildlife. A healthy ocean supplies the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. If the ocean isn’t healthy, neither are we.”

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Because of this, the spirit of “Get the Drift and Bag It!” continues year-round at Mālama Maui Nui.

Community engagement is the central aspect of the organization’s work.  Businesses, community groups, school clubs, or individuals interested in preventing litter and facilitating recycling programs that help keep Maui Nui beautiful are invited to call (808) 877-2524 or visit Mālama Maui Nui online for more information.

*Video: Get the Drift and Bag It! Campaign Kickoff – Sept. 19, 2015.

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