Malama Maui Nui’s annual “Get the Drift and Bag It!” event brought together nearly 600 volunteers during its marine debris cleanup campaign that ran Sept. 19 through Oct. 17. The volunteers confronted litter head-on, covering more than 28 miles of Maui beaches and shorelines–removing thousands of pounds of litter to help achieve litter-free oceans.
“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. 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.
Knowing details about 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.
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).
Malama Maui Nui sends the Maui County numbers to the Ocean Conservancy for inclusion in their global Ocean Trash Index. Malama 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.
“A healthy ocean means more than beautiful coasts and vibrant ocean wildlife,” according to Ocean Conservancy. “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.”
Hawaii’s marine ecosystems–though 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 Hawaii’s quality of life afloat.
Malama Maui Nui is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate, inspire, and empower individuals and communities to beautify and maintain Maui Nui’s environment, thereby supporting its economy, quality of life, and unique Hawaiian culture. Through litter pickups, marine debris cleanups, invasive species removal, native planting, graffiti removal, recycling events, and education programs, MMN brings community, business, and government together to promote the health of Maui County’s environment. These programs and services are provided by Mālama Maui Nui in partnership with the County of Maui, Department of Environmental Management.
Malama Maui Nui is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading nonprofit that brings people together to build and sustain vibrant communities. Federally recognized as a nonprofit organization under the name “Community Work Day Program,” the organization started doing business as Malama Maui Nui in July 2013.
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 877-2524 or visit MalamaMauiNui.org for more information.
Photo: Bryan Berkowitz