Combing Forces To Safeguard Kaua‘i

(from left) Eddie Sarita, Beth Tokioka and Keith Suga

A national organization hopes local groups will work together to ‘Keep Kaua’i Beautiful’

Velvet green mountains surrounded by a sapphire sea make Kaua’i effortlessly beautiful. But look closer and you’ll find discarded cigarette butts, discarded food containers and leftover fishing lines, creating an environment in need of the community’s tender loving care.

That’s where Cecile Carson of Keep America Beautiful comes in, and why she is seeking Kaua’i nonprofits and volunteers to collaborate in helping preserve the island’s pristine nature.

“Sometimes we don’t see what’s right in front of us,” Carson says. “We get used to it and just drive on by.”

Focused on beautifying and cleaning up the environment, the state’s Keep the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful organization, a chapter of the 53-year-old nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, is making a presence on Kaua’i.

The incomparable view from the Kalalau Lookout

“We hope, encourage and want to have all of the people who do volunteer beautification efforts on Kaua’i to become involved with this program and help establish the operation of a Kaua’i affiliate,” says the county’s Ho’olokahi coordinator Eddie Sarita.

Maintaining a connection with Keep America Beautiful would assist in organizing the diverse efforts currently conducted by different groups across the island, says Sarita, who manages and directs activities at the Kaua’i War Memorial Convention Hall and works with volunteers involved in programs such as Adopt-A-Park

“It can help to better focus these volunteer efforts that so many well-intentioned Kaua’i residents want to contribute toward keeping what we now have consistently beautiful, and good to see and visit,” he says.

But it isn’t just about picking up other people’s trash. According to Keep the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful executive director Chris Woolaway, it’s about changing behavior. An educational mission also would be enacted as part of Keep America Beautiful’s campaign.

For example, discharging cigarette filters into the ocean is actually a federal offense, yet studies have shown that they account for more than 40 percent of trash picked up at shorelines.

“This is about individuals taking better care of their community and environment, making it a cleaner, more beautiful world for all of us,” Carson says.

It will take commitment from volunteers to get things started and organized, says Keith Suga, manager of Goodfellow Brothers Kaua’i.

But there is great potential for programs that could benefit Kaua’i or take what groups currently do and strengthen their efforts.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. works with the Furlough Friday Force in Hanalei

“I think it could be very helpful to better coordinate our litter-control efforts and utilize the work we’re already doing to leverage more resources,” says Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s executive assistant Beth Tokioka.

Though there are only three Kaua’i representatives currently serving on the Keep Kaua’i Beautiful Certification Committee – Sarita, Suga and Tokioka – they hope to ultimately achieve a more community-centered effort in the near future. Removing unsightly litter, graffiti and other eye-sores is a concerted accomplishment, and they are confident that Keep America Beautiful can help make that happen.

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