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Volunteers collect 1-ton trailer worth of debris

Volunteer groups spent Sept. 19 cleaning up more than 12 square miles including Lahaina streets, harbors, and beaches from Olowalu to Honokowai, including both boat harbors and Lahainaluna Road.

The 16th annual Lahaina- Town Cleanup was held Sept. 19. The event was a little different this year due to COVID-19 but the results were still impactful. For this year’s cleanup the community was encouraged to participate in cleanups near their home, with their family members or individually while practicing all CDC and County of Maui guidelines for masks, gloves, and social distancing. Also new this year is that in addition to the cleanup on International Coastal Cleanup Day, celebrated annually on the third Saturday in September, community members were encouraged to take part in a monthlong effort to clean the coastline as we move to celebrate ICC Month every September moving forward.

The Ocean Conservancy’s 35th International Coastal Cleanup is the world’s largest single-day volunteer effort to remove trash from local waterways, beaches, lakes and rivers. Since the first ICC, more than 15 million volunteers have removed nearly 315 million pounds of trash from beaches and waterways worldwide. Lahaina has participated in the movement for the past 16 years with over 8,000 volunteer hours contributed to the global effort for trash free seas.

“When you join a cleanup, you are advancing one of the most immediate and impactful solutions to keeping plastics out of the ocean,” said Matt Lane, event founder and Love the Sea Development manager, “Which is why we are so grateful to all the amazing volunteers who came out today. Awareness has really grown around the issue of ocean plastic and it’s great to see people taking action.”

Volunteer groups from Maui Surf Clinics, Maui Preparatory School, Lahainaluna High School, Pacific Whale Foundation, Moku Roots and ProService Hawaii spent the day cleaning up more than 12 square miles including Lahaina streets, harbors, and beaches from Olowalu to Honokowai, including both boat harbors and Lahainaluna Road. A group from Sail Maui ran the cleanup at Hanakao’o Park joined by two-time champion waterman Zane Schweitzer. A dive team of 10 led by Ethan Burke cleaned underwater.

Water was provided by Maui Sustainable Solutions and fruit was distributed to each team leader that was donated by Napili Community Garden. The nonprofit organization Love the Sea partnered with LahainaTown Action Committee to remove the rubbish from the cleanup with a trailer donated by Elite Island Construction. The County of Maui Solid Waste Division provided waivers for the rubbish that could not be recycled.

“We are so thankful to the businesses, nonprofits and to the County of Maui who came together to make sure that the annual LahainaTown Cleanup continued its mission despite the challenges and changes that we had to make due to COVID-19,” said Tambara Garrick of LahainaTown Action Committee and volunteer on the ProService Hawaii Team. “It was inspiring to see the volunteers who came out and worked so hard in the hot sun to remove debris before it made its way into the ocean.”

Every year, millions of tons of trash — including an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste — flow into the ocean, entangling wildlife, polluting beaches, and costing coastal municipalities hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Last year, all 10 of the Top 10 most-collected items were made of plastic, including cigarette butts (which contain plastic filters), food wrappers, straws and stirrers, and — for the first time — plastic forks, knives, and spoons, which are among the deadliest types of marine debris to ocean animals. Plastics — which never fully biodegrade but break up into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics — are of particular concern. The volunteers for the 16th annual LahainaTown Cleanup collected a 1-ton trailer worth of debris, much of which was from abandoned campsites along the West Maui shoreline.

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