Beaches close to BYU-Hawaii require regular clean ups from volunteer groups to remain attractive to users and preserve local marine wildlife, according to the school’s Marine Research Club. With the ocean so close to campus, it can be an unpleasant experience when “there is a lot of plastic at the beach that continually washes up on shore,” as Brittany Bridge, a freshman biomedical major from Washington D.C. commented.
Bridge is one of the many students who “care about protecting the environment [and] keeping the campus community maintained.” According to members of the Marine Research Club presidency, the popularity of this attitude is evident in the local clubs and institutions that organize clean-up events to protect the environment and make the local beaches more enjoyable for all.
The BYUH Social Work Club, as well as the Marine Research Club, and the Mormon Helping Hands Program, are all examples of groups who regularly participate in trash pickups at local beaches, such as Bikini or Hukilau.
Grace Tuthill, a freshman marine biology major from California and secretary for the Marine Research Club, is one of the planners for clean-up events during Fall Semester. This club said they are very determined to avoid unnecessary deaths of marine wildlife by sifting away microplastics from North Shore beaches, explained Tuthill.
“Microplastics are broken down plastics digested by local marine life that tend to result in death of the affected organism,” according to Kendra Nelson, a sophomore marine biology major from Arizona and vice president of the Marine Biology Club. For those who decide to volunteer, Grace said, it is about more “than just the beach looking good, it is about protecting our local wildlife and being caretakers of our location.”
The club is hosting their first event of the semester at Bikini beach on the morning of Oct. 27. It is scheduled to last three hours. Tuthill and other members of the club presidency estimated “anywhere between 50 to 90 people will show up to help because we are making larger efforts this semester to make the community more aware of the issue and event.”
To obtain supplies and encourage participation, the presidency gained sponsorships from wherever they could, including the mainland. “Sustainable Coastlines of Hawaii assist in supplying most of the borrowed and donated cleaning resources,” said Nelson.
Many students on campus often undertake the challenge of cleaning the surrounding beaches into their own hands. Nelson said she often went out alone or with friends to do so, before joining the club. “We love our beaches, and people don’t realize how serious of a problem [pollution] is.”
Ocean and beach pollution are not an uncommon problem for the islands of Hawaii, especially after the threat and proximity of several tropical storms in recent months. With this need in mind, local organizations encourage locals and students alike to participate in the removal of trash and other pollutants.