BYU–Hawaii students gathered to pick up trash for a beach cleanup event at Bikini Beach on Nov. 2 organized by Protect Marine Life, a non-profit run by BYUH students. Members of the non-profit hoped the cleanup would empower others to be more conscious of the marine environment.
On Instagram, Protect Marine Life’s bio says the organization is “striving to educate others on the impact of trash on marine life and inspire others to make daily changes to improve the marine ecosystem.”
Sydney Violette, a freshman from Utah majoring in exercise and sports science and co-founder of Protect Marine Life, said, “We’re all living in Hawaii and … we’re all impacted by the trash that is building upon the beaches. If we can do something small and change that, I think it is important that we do.”
Kate Schiers, a junior from Idaho studying biomedicine and co-founder of the organization, explained they started the non-profit as part of their public management class.
Schiers said they choose to create Protect Marine Life because it was something that could bring students together.
“This is something we can all connect on living in Hawaii, and most of us students use the beaches and are interested in seeing marine life.”
Genesis Chavez, a senior from Oregon majoring in political science and co-founder, said, “If I’m [in Hawaii], why not participate in cleaning it and protecting it?
“The beach is more than just for us to come and play. It’s also part of the land, and being here in Hawaii, I know I’m using someone else’s land.”
Chavez said through organizing a non-profit and a service project, the students in the class get the chance to apply what they are learning in the classroom and gain real-world experience.
Anna Hansen, a sophomore from Idaho majoring in intercultural peacebuilding, said she attended the cleanup because she does not want to see trash accumulating on the beaches. “It affects the people and natural wildlife, and it affects the beauty of Hawaii.”
Schiers said, “Not only do we want to do our part in cleaning up, [but] we also want to do our part in making sure the trash isn’t there.” She added students should all consciously make an effort to not contribute to the trash buildup.
According to the American Association of the Advancement of Science, between 4.8 million and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic entered the ocean in 2010 from people living on the coastlines.
She shared before moving to Hawaii, she did not care as much about recycling or “going green,” but now has a better understanding of the ways plastic and trash can affect the ocean.
“When I was back in Idaho, I didn’t really care about being green. Coming to Hawaii, I can see those impacts because I can see our oceans.”
Violette said while she lived in Utah, she would see people using metal straws to minimize plastic waste and often wondered if it was necessary. “Does that really help? There can’t be that much trash. Once you live in a place that is actually affecting you, it becomes a lot more realistic.”