Haula Bay in the Maha'ulepu area on the south shore of Kauai is one the most dynamic and scenic spots on the island. Because it faces directly into the the prevailing northeast trade winds, it is also, unfortunately, a good barometer for the amount of trash in the ocean. Commercial fishing nets and floats, broken long lines, and other by-products of the fishing industry are frequent sights. The ubiquitous plastic junk is always around. The photo shows big plastic trash but does not capture the tiny bits of plastic scattered on the shore. The growing plague of plastic waste in the oceans has been widely documented but the reality hits hard when you repeatedly see it in a setting like this. If you want to really get a view of the problem, get the June 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine.
Fortunately, the Surfrider Foundation and other groups and individuals do a great job to keep Kauai's beaches as clean as reasonably possible. Mahalo to all who participate in this never-ending effort.
When you live on a small island, the impacts of man-made problems are quickly magnified. This household is trying to reduce our consumption of plastic, especially single-use products and packaging. We favor the food trucks and vendors that use paper instead of the dreaded styrofoam clamshell. We try to consolidate e-commerce activity to avoid excess bubble wrap and packaging. If you are a guest, we have plenty of re-usable water bottles - please don't buy that "flat" of water at Costco! And, hey Costco, can you do something about some of those "club packs" clad in over a square foot of nearly impenetrable plastic and cardboard? Black plastic containers are also a curse as they are difficult to recycle here. More and more, our buying decisions are being influenced by the kind and amount of packaging around a product.
So, even if you live a thousand miles from an ocean, I hope that you might think about your individual and household waste streams and consider ways to radically reduce needless harmful junk that can seep into the earth's ecosystems. If you are an entrepreneur and can focus your talents and energy on real solutions to the growing plastic mess, I and many others would gladly invest in you!
The world's oceans need help and even the smallest individual effort can start to make a difference.