There are millions of metric tons of plastic in the oceans, including food wrappers, bottles, single-use bags, and takeout containers. The problem can seem a little overwhelming, but one organization has been doing its part to keep their community as free of ocean trash as possible.
The nonprofit Hawaii Wildlife Fund recently announced that it had reached 300 tons of marine debris removal on the Big Island since 2003. If you include their similar efforts on Maui, Midway, and Lalo, it’s more than 351 tons.
In a Facebook post, the organization said, “We would not have been able to accomplish this milestone without our motivated volunteers, community support, and funding from NOAA’s Marine Debris Program grants and private donations. A very sincere mahalo to each of you (hundreds of you) that contributed to this HUGE accomplishment, and for your dedication to our mission to protect our native wildlife.”
The largest portion of debris – 95% – was removed from shores in the Kaʻū district, thanks to efforts from community members, students, and landowners. Meanwhile, 3% was removed from Kona, 1% from Hilo, and 1% from Kohala.
After surpassing such a large number, the organization is encouraging the community to do what it can to stop the need for cleanup.
The post says, “Now as a 25-year organization we’d LOVE to shift our focus away from removal and towards prevention (and education and outreach efforts) so please join us to stem the tide of plastic pollution in our oceans!”
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The debris removal is just the tip of the iceberg of the organization’s work. Along with coastal restoration, education outreach, and environmental campaigns, it focuses on hawksbill sea turtle conservation by conducting research and monitoring nesting activities. They say there are fewer than 100 adult female hawksbills known to nest in the entire state. The animals are listed as critically endangered in Hawaii and worldwide. To help encourage survival, the organization has helped protect the hatchlings as they head to the ocean.
Want to address the trash problem in the oceans and keep a clean environment for these turtles? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says scientists estimated that 8 million metric tons entered the oceans in 2010 alone, but there are a few things we call all do to minimize that.
First, take a look at your plastic use, from water bottles to plastic shopping bags, to food containers. Could you eliminate some of them? If you feel that you can, try to do so and find alternatives. You can always reuse items or recycle them, as well.
Much like this crew in Hawaii, if you live in a coastal community, see if there’s a local effort you can join. You can find a cleanup here.Whizzco