WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Jade Storms
More than 10,000 cigarette butts were picked up off Waikiki Beach early Thursday morning with the help of students from St. Louis High School and members of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.
The beach cleanup was organized by Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, an organization that inspires local communities to care for their coastlines through hands-on beach cleanups.
Kahi Pacarro, the Executive Director for Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, explained that the organization was already doing a study on the amount of cigarettes collected at Waikiki Beach when St. Louis reached out to him for a beach clean up.
"We did a sweep about six weeks ago and we found 1,500 cigarettes in a span of one hour," Pacarro said. "Then we put out these receptacles to collect cigarette butts as people smoked them, like ash trays, and then we needed to do a follow-up sweep to see if there had been any reduction in cigarettes, so that's where St. Louis came in and we had them do that second count."
97 students from St. Louis came out to help pick up cigarette butts and other trash around the beach in Waikiki.
Larry Goeas, a sophomore at St. Louis, explained that students were divided into six different groups and spent two hours looking for cigarette butts in areas of Waikiki Beach.
"The main thing we're collecting is cigarette butts to kind of start a ban of smoking cigarettes, or smoking in particular, around the beach because a lot of people leave stuff there around the beach," Goeas said. "It feels good because you're doing stuff for the community, just making it better for other people."
Honolulu Council member Stanley Chang says the beach cleanup helped bring awareness to Bill 72, which would ban smoking on popular beaches such as Kuhio Beach Park, Kapiolani Beach Park, Sandy Beach Park and Ala Moana Beach Park.
Chang introduced the bill to the Honolulu City Council early November and said he hoped this cleanup effort would further educate people about littering and keeping Hawaii's beaches clean.
"I've been on too many of these beach cleanups and I observed that, by far, the number one item that gets picked up are cigarette butts," Chang said. "We also receive a lot of complaints from beach goers about the secondhand smoke and also about the danger that the cigarette butts cause, especially to infants who may not know better and pick them up and put them in their mouths."
Chang said the community has generally been supportive of his bill.
"People are very aware of the smoking problem, and if you've ever been to a beach you know how many cigarette butts are out there and you know how much second hand smoke is out there, and so a lot of people have been very supportive," he said.
Chang said Bill 72 will go before the Public Safety and Economic Development committee for a second reading in February.
Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii will be holding their annual fundraiser on February 9 from 6pm-10pm, at 2933 Kalakaua Avenue and will be hosted by Hawaii 5-0 star Alex O' Loughlin.
For more information, visit sustainablecoastlineshawaii.org.