Diversity, a word used to define a variety of different things. Often, it is used to describe cultures, food, and people, but what about trash?
Since its inception in 2014, 808 Cleanups—a 501(c)3 environmental nonprofit organization—has certainly stretched the limits of what some may consider, commonplace. Volunteers of the organization have collected and removed nearly 84,000 pounds of trash in 2016 alone mostly from areas where people and nature have been trying to coexist.
Aside from sheer volume of trash recovered, volunteers ask questions like: Where did this trash come from? Who put it here?
And, most importantly, how do we stop this from happening?
Questions that, like the trash found, have so many different answers and backstories. From the smallest items like cigarette butts, bottle caps and nails, to bigger finds like shoes, paper and plastic bags all the way up to large industrial rubber pipes used in underwater cable laying, items that have been collected and removed from the environment all have these backstories.
Empowered volunteers of this organization, everyday citizens, from different birthplaces, different backgrounds, and different communities, unite attempting to restore the natural beauty of Hawaiʻi through decentralized cleanups from mauka to makai. What started as a few people choosing to pick up trash along their favorite mountain hike, or on a special beach, has evolved into a multi-faceted, multi-generational, and multi-organizational effort focused on the preservation of Hawaiʻi’s unique beauty. Volunteers have trekked far into the the mountains, deep into business and commercial areas, as well as into individual communities, following both the trail of trash and searching for the answers to those questions.
From Kauaiʻi to Hawaiʻi Island, the impacts of 808 Cleanups volunteers have not gone without notice. Their stewardships have caught the attention of the general public, private businesses, schools and the media. The attention brought to the issue of trash is a positive but uphill climb as long-term solutions must be found and trash’s detrimental impacts are not yet fully realized.
Undeterred, volunteers take to the environment almost daily, averaging four cleanups per day consisting not just of trash pickup, but also graffiti removal, environment restoration, pallet bonfire debris removal, marine debris removal and general upkeep of public spaces like parks, hiking trails and beaches.
Through generous grants, volunteers are equipped with the necessary tools allowing them to fully address the issues they encounter, safely and efficiently. The collected item types, weight, location and volunteer hours among other things are documented and members are encouraged to report their cleanups and findings to the group’s Facebook Page, where volunteers come together to plan events, discuss opportunities and share their experiences. As diverse as the trash is, so are the members of this group, all driven to make Hawaiʻi beautiful place for years to come. Yet there is still so much more to be done.
3 tools for trash trekkers and beach lovers:
- Provide seed funding for a 808cleanup,
- Buy some tools and supplies; donate them to 808cleanups,
- Not in Hawaii? Start a cleanup in your neighborhood.
or, for more information, check out their website at www.808cleanups.org.