Cigarette butts, plastic bags still part of the trash found in Sandy Beach cleanup

EAST HONOLULU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sandy's is a popular enough beach that people still show up when the weather is gray and rainy. Fortunately, that included the volunteers in an annual cleanup effort.

About a hundred of those volunteers came for the sixth annual Sandy Beach cleanup organized by the Surfrider Foundation and Revolusun. They scoured the beach park for litter of all sizes, ranging from discarded canopies and tires to cigarette butts.

"It's pretty incredible what you'll find tucked in the bushes or on the beach or alongside the roadways," said Eric Carlson of Revolusun.

Even though smoking is banned at city and county beaches, cigarette butts are still being found. According to the Surfrider Foundation, it's still the most littered item in Hawaii.

"The biggest haul, according to everybody, is cigarette butts, from everywhere," said Mary Finley, the Surfrider Foundation's beach cleanup coordinator. "From in the park, on the beach, they're just finding hundreds of cigarette butts. Last count I saw over a thousand."

A ban on plastic bags on Oahu that took effect at the beginning of the month hasn't had an impact yet. "It's a little early to tell," said Stuart Coleman of the Surfrider Foundation. "We've already collected more than 30 plastic bags out here, and so we're hoping there's going to be a reduction."

The problem isn't limited to bags made of plastic. Volunteers also found an eel that appeared to have died after it was tangled in fishing line.

"When it comes to plastics of all sorts, including fishing line and fishing nets which are the most prevalent, we have over a million sea birds and over a hundred thousand marine mammals die each year, and that's the low end," said Coleman.

Volunteers along the Ka Iwi shoreline also picked up a lot of wooden pallets from along the Ka Iwi shoreline, which are used for bonfires.

"More people are burning pallets, unfortunately," said Fawn Liebengood of 808 Cleanups. "I don't think they realize the damage that it leaves behind."

According to Liebengood, a lot of that damage can be dangerous. She held up a rusted piece of metal from a pallet. "So this one here, this one came from some piece of wood, so there's three nails sticking up right here. So it's very dangerous."

The Surfrider Foundation said the cleanup effort clears more than 900 pounds of trash each year.

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