Photo Information

U.S. Navy Sailors with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37, alongside members of the Environmental Compliance and Protection Department, cut up tangled fishing nets during a Weed Warriors event at Fort Hase beach, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Feb. 10, 2018. Weed Warriors is a volunteer opportunity for Service members and base personnel to aid in the removal of invasive species of plants and trash polluting the environment.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Isabelo Tabanguil

DIY Beach Clean-up!

7 Mar 2019 | Emily Hauck - Environmental Division Marine Corps Base Hawaii

The Environmental Department is extremely grateful to all of the patrons helping to clean up our beaches and preserve our peninsula’s natural resources. To aid in clean-up efforts, the Environmental Department has installed Beach Clean-Up bag stations to encourage everyone to pick up trash they may come across when beachcombing. These bags have been added to locations all along MCBH, including Fort Hase, Pyramid Rock, and North Beach. The idea is that these bags can be a way for people to collect the debris they find at the beach or along the shores and provide an easy means to dispose of the garbage properly. 

In the past, there have been piles of un-bagged trash left along our shorelines, which has been collected by well-meaning people walking the beaches. It is not uncommon to see folks walk the beach, and instead of letting old fishing line, plastic bags, or bottle caps drift back into the water, they will collect it. When the nearby garbage bin is full, they leave it leaning against the trashcan. The guiltless thought is, “it is better to have rubbish be picked up and brought to a landfill than have it end up floating in our waves.” Even though that is true, the build-up of collected debris was resulting in illegal dumping sites which is a Class 1 violation of federal law. The trash also usually ended up being blown back into the brush or ocean anyways.  

The purpose of the program is to provide bags for people that are helping to keep our beaches rubbish-free. While these are not intended for personal trash items, they are helpful to ensure the Base stays in compliance with solid waste regulations. Once a Beach Clean-up bag has been filled with marine debris, it can easily be deposited in the nearest trash bin.

“The Beach Clean-Up Bag Stations are protecting our environment, our land, our water, and our resources,“ says Michele Chang of the Environmental Department, …keeping them pristine allows the mission to continue and improves quality of life.” Chang mentions that the bags themselves are biodegradable, the boxes they are stored in were made from up-cycled wood from the Recycle Center, and the signs were donated by Self Help. The Beach Clean-up Bag Stations can easily become a teachable moment for parents and families. Bring the kids along for a day at the beach. When they find straws or plastic bags in the sand, help them fill a bag with debris and take it to the nearest trash bin or dumpster. Maybe spend time discussing recyclable materials versus trash and how certain materials can be re-used to make something new. Voila! You have now helped to educate the next generation of environmental stewards.

Plastic pollution is becoming a huge problem in our oceans. When something is discarded on land, it can be carried into our streams and rivers and eventually make its way to our oceans. An estimated 4.4-12.7 million metric tons of plastic are added to our oceans annually, according to a 2015 article published in the journal Science. The most common trash culprits are cigarettes, styrofoam, food wrappers, bottles, caps, and grocery bags, but marine debris can consist of everything from old lighters and packaging to fishing nets and shipping refuse. Plastic can often trap sea animals or entangle marine mammals causing discomfort, infection, suffocation, deformities, or death. The larger pieces of plastic then break down into smaller beads, creating microplastics, which are all too often ingested by fish, birds, and other marine wildlife. Since plastics take anywhere from 100 to 10,000 years to break apart (not really ‘break down’ because it never goes away), we need a long-term answer to a very complex question. Part of the solution could be a societal shift in how communities and businesses utilize plastic products and recycle. But it all starts with changing our mindset.

According to a scientific study from 2017, one such solution to marine litter is likely to be found in a transition towards more sustainable ways of production and consumption. Global initiatives have been set in motion to reduce the amount and impact of land-based and sea-based marine debris and reduce the overall accumulation of marine debris on shorelines, in benthic habitats, and within pelagic waters. Marine debris is a symptom of our ‘throw-away’ society and our utilization and abuse of natural resources. However, global change is empowered by grassroots action- from the bottom up. You can take action by reducing, reusing, recycling right here on MCBH!

Re-think your waste with the Base Re-Use Room, which is available to take residents’ re-usable products and giving it away free to anyone who wants it. The Re-Use Room will accept and give away re-usable household hazardous products such as cleaning products, paints, garden supplies, propane tanks, etc.

Did you know we have a Recycle Center on Base? Recyclables are prohibited in government dumpsters, so everything from white paper to magazines, corrugated cardboard to aluminum cans, and toner cartridges can be accepted at the Recycle Center. You can help reduce the amount of plastic and debris that ends up in our oceans. For additional information and a POC:

You can become a good steward of MCBH beaches by:

  • Collecting all your belongings after a beach visit and properly disposing of trash, fishing gear, or recyclables.
  • Do not take sand or coral from beaches.
  • No open fires.
  • Do not release balloons.
  • Volunteer for local clean-ups and service projects. Contact Base Environmental at 257-7000 for more information.

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