An estimated five tons of marine debris was airlifted from Kahoolawe to Maui, with most of it destined for a second life thanks to recycling. Every three years, staff from the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission and volunteers embark on a project to clean a veritable potpourri of trash, mostly plastic, from Kanapou Beach on the island’s eastern side.
Margaret Pulver of Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission explains that Kanapou is Hawaii’s own miniature North Pacific Garbage Patch. “Some of the debris is generated locally, but much of it is carried by ocean currents across thousands of miles. When it aggregates at Kanapou, the trash is ankle deep, so we try to conduct these cleanups every three years or so to avoid having to stand up multiple operations.”
Twenty-three enormous fabric bags crossed the channel between Kahoolawe and Maui in sling loads beneath a Windward Aviation helicopter. Pulver said some of the plastics that remained on Kaho’olawe are to get a second life as erosion control structures. A local nonprofit organization will take the material flown to Maui to create various second-life products.