A kick-butt cleanup at Sandy's
By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Andrew Gomes
East O'ahu's popular Sandy Beach yesterday received a good combing for one of the world's most oft-littered items — cigarette butts — as part of a cleanup and litter prevention campaign.
The turnout for the grass-roots event, organized by a local nonprofit to coincide with Earth Day, impressed leaders of the effort who reported 130 volunteers collected an estimated 5,228 cigarette butts and 40 large bags of rubbish.
Sebastiano Bresolin, 11, came to the beach as a volunteer with his father and sister, and was floored by what he found.
"It's disgusting," Bresolin said. "Disgusting. There was a lot of rubbish, especially in the plant areas."
"What's scary is that what you see on the surface is nothing," added Bresolin's father, Fabio, a Kalama Valley resident and University of Hawai'i astronomy professor. "If you start to dig with your hands you will find so much."
The cleanup was organized by Suzanne Frazer and Dean Otsuki of the year-old nonprofit Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawai'i (B.E.A.C.H.).
Frazer said several entities helped promote or sponsor the event, including the Hawai'i State Bodysurfing Association, City Department of Environmental Services, Da Hui, Australia-based ButtsOut, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Kale's Natural Foods and Ben & Jerry's.
Students from Hawai'i Pacific University, Kapi'olani Community College and TransPacific Hawaii College also helped.
"Sandy Beach is a really popular beach, and everyone wanted to help out," Frazer said, adding that the turnout was beyond her highest expectation. "It was enormous."
Pedro Refuerzo, a kama'aina Salt Lake resident and avid bodysurfer, was at Sandy's early yesterday for the waves but decided to lend a hand on the sand afterwards.
"I just grabbed a bag and a pair of gloves," he said. "I just happened to be here. I might as well pitch in."
Mike "Gator Mike" Berman has been a member of the Sandy Beach Hui maintaining an area fronting the park's Full Point break after he moved to Hawai'i from Florida four years ago. So it was natural for him to be at Sandy's cleaning yesterday. But he wished more people would make the effort regularly.
"I give thanks to do something like this on a beautiful day," he said. "Every day is Earth Day for myself."
Lifeguard Peter Erwin, stationed at Sandy's for the last eight years, also said volunteer cleanups are needed more frequently. "I wish they'd have these more often instead of just on Earth Day," he said.
Erwin said he and other lifeguards usually pick up rubbish as they set up for work, but that cigarette butts are particularly troublesome because they get blown from the parking lot and mixed into the sand.
Frazer, the cleanup event co-organizer, said the city's beach-cleaning tractors don't do a good job collecting butts, so she partnered with ButtsOut, an Australian organization fighting cigarette-butt litter, to tackle the problem.
As part of the Sandy Beach campaign yesterday, Frazer's group gave smokers free reusable containers made by ButtsOut for their butts.
Organizers also signed up smokers for a survey to see if the campaign has any effect on their smoking behavior, and will conduct another cleanup at Sandy's Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
"We'll be here next Saturday to see if we made a difference," co-organizer Otsuki said.
Reach Andrew Gomes at firstname.lastname@example.org.