10/26/06 – Today we made a long trip across the island – from the far West Shore where we are staying to the North Shore famous for its huge surf. We were not going to the North Shore to see the surfers (the sea was flat on the North Shore today) but rather to do some work with Greenpeace on one of the North Shore Beaches.
Meta had pored through the O’ahu events calendar earlier in the week and found an event that Greenpeace was holding to clean up a beach with the help of Greenpeace ship crew and volunteers.
We stayed up late the night before and the family was not particularly motivated to leave in the morning. But meta persisted and we eventually got on the road by 10 AM and made the hour plus drive to the other side of the island). We arrived at the secluded beach where the work was to be done and were stunned by the amount of debris on the small beach. We quickly learned that the trash (mainly plastic) had come from all over the Pacific – it was drawn by ocean currents and deposited on this beach. There was plastic of all types – ropes, buoys, toothbrushes, plastic containers, car bumpers, boat parts and many other unidentifiable items. We all start in – loading the trash into plastic bags and hauling stuff up the beach for collection.
The Greenpeace coordinators let us know that this garbage came from as far off as Asia (we found some with Korean writing on it) and was released from a huge “trash vortex” (http://oceans.greenpeace.org/en/our-oceans/pollution/trash-vortex) out in the Pacific. Every once in a while some of the trash from the vortex peels off and ends up on the windward side of O’ahu (and other Islands). The Greenpeace vessel was touring several of the locations and also headed to the vortex. They were cleaning up the beach and documenting what they found there.
We spent a few hours on the beach cleaning up. By early afternoon we had a massive pile of trash along with a bunch of golf balls that w3ere collected from the surf (the beach had a golf driving range right behind it). Caleb and Anna helped out by creating a big sign in the sand with the golf balls that spelled out “Trash”. They took pictures and video and they interviewed each family member (even Anna). The Greenpeace crew members were from all over the world – Holland, Fiji, Germany, Armenia, New Zealand and many other places. WE even met the Deputy Director for the US – Bill Richardson, (http://members.greenpeace.org/blog/billy_rich/) who had been on a project at sea for 5 weeks. They were all clearly very committed and motivated people with a genuine care for the future of our planet.
Everyone we met was very friendly and they were somewhat surprised were not locals to Hawaii (what would tourist be doing out cleaning up the beaches?). I think that they (and many others we have encountered) were intrigued by a family traveling the World together.
It felt good to give back a little rather than just sitting on the beach getting a tan (although we are doing plenty of that as well).