Hawaii trash used to build Swedish vacuum

Published: Oct. 29, 2010 at 10:38 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 30, 2010 at 1:51 AM HST
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By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

KAHUKU (Hawaii News Now) - Hawaii and Sweden are almost 8,000 miles apart, but distance has not stopped a Swedish company from collaborating with volunteers on Oahu to raise awareness about a serious environmental problem.

Electrolux, based in Stockholm, has built a vacuum cleaner made almost entirely out of plastic debris picked up along the coast in Kahuku. It is one of five vacuums Electrolux has made in its Vacs From The Sea awareness campaign. The others were made from plastic trash collected in the Indian Ocean, North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Baltic Sea.

"This is a water sample we took from Kahuku, the shoreline. Just out of the water we scooped it up," said Dean Otsuki as he held up a small jar filled with salt water and hundreds of tiny pieces of broken plastic.

Four years ago Otsuki and Suzanne Frazer founded a non-profit called Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii, or BEACH for short. They organize shoreline clean-ups to combat the ever growing plastic problem.

"Most of what washes up on our beaches is white, blue, and green and that's because marine life and sea birds are picking off the bright colors," Frazer told Hawaii News Now.

"This is a huge threat," Frazer said of the plastics that litter our oceans and beaches. "It's got serious ecological consequences worldwide and it's not affecting just marine life and sea birds, but also going all the way up through the food chain to humans," Frazer added.

Frazer and Otsuki were delighted to see the final product when Electrolux released pictures of the Vacs From The Sea this week.

"Those vacuum cleaners are going to be on tour I believe through Europe. Maybe we can talk them into coming to the United States to raise this really important issue of plastic in the ocean," Otsuki said.

The vacs from the sea are identical in size, shape, and function to Electrolux's real machines, but they will not be sold for household use. They were built hoping to spur a much bigger clean-up.

To learn more about Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii, visit its web site at the following address.

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