Student Author: Amani
Our school recently did an activity to help the local community called Get The Drift. It included going down the beach near our school next to NELHA and picking up trash while keeping note of what debris we found. This consisted of adding up the total amount of plastics and other debris found to see what the most object or item was used on this beach or that washed onto it’s shores. This activity happens at the beginning of every year and it has a positive impact on the beach itself as well as the environment around it. It sets a healthy example for others on the beach as well to hopefully take from the visual experience and apply it to their own lives.
Some things I have observed that my group collected were bottle caps and cigarettes. I was surprised to find some of the larger items of debris laying on the beach because those would seem more prone to land in the trash or be discarded correctly especially with all of the various trash cans located spread out on the beach. I think the majority of the trash originated from the mainland or other global areas but I do admit that a lot has also come from our local community. A lot of our things are shipped in from the mainland and you can usually tell from the packaging or if it says ‘made in.’ I think marine debris has a really negative impact on our environment and can cause many problems to rise throughout the community. The pollution that goes into our oceans can be eaten by our marine life which they will fail to digest resulting in their death. It could come back to us from our own sea life that we ingest therefore we are intaking an amount of microplastics. The trash we expel into the ocean can also ensnare and strangle the creatures within our oceans, leaving them helpless with no way to untangle themselves. Actions that could be taken to prevent or help reduce marine debris is proper recycling of your garbage and reusing the plastics that could have more than one use. Joining beach clean ups can help reduce the debris in part of the ecosystem.
Students Call to Action
A student letter written to Hawaii's politicians:
I reside on the Big Island of Hawaii. I am 16 years old and a student at West Hawaii Explorations Academy which is a project based school that teaches its students real life, first hand important skills. Recently we took action and performed a beach clean up activity down at our local beach. The main goal was to find what item was frequently polluted which unfortunately there is a lot. The three most prevalent debris types picked up were plastic, glass, and metal. This includes items such as cigarette butts and bottle caps.
Pollution has had a very hard and negative effect on our earth. The debris we find on the beach is only a fraction of all there really is, including the pollution consumed by the smaller section of the food chain, which in the end comes back to us and our own consumption because we are consuming the microplastics our sea and land life intake. Single use plastics have contributed a large amount to plastic pollution because there is such a significant amount of it. A lot of which could actually be reused more than once. Single use plastics are a large problem because they begin to build up when we can’t keep up with getting rid of all of it quick enough. Another option could be purchasing and using less plastic.
The difficult part is setting a solution in motion to help remove or reduce the hard pressured problem we face of many today. We have to pay attention and move forward with more respect and responsibility. Taking action first handedly could be doing your part and throwing away your trash where it belongs and contributing to the earth and environment by joining beach clean-ups. Help educate others and remind them of the global problems we face as a community so they could help clean up and handle their garbage correctly. It all comes down to the people willing to take action and perform the measures needed. Organizing more frequent clean ups is also an appropriate way to initiate action along with reusing and recycling. We have solutions ready but it comes down to whether we are willing to move forward and perform the measures needed to go through with them.
We could bring community awareness to the fact that our pollution is rising and slowly engulfing us in a large problem that will not only affect us and today's generation but the future generations to come. Community awareness could be friendly public announcements or speeches reminding people to handle their garbage correctly and take part in the local take-action organizations if they can. This is something to take into consideration since scientists believe that by 2050 we could have as much debris in the ocean as there are fish. We should be able to allow safe and cautious roadside clean ups that bring attention to the pollution that will end up at our beaches and in our ocean.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter!