Slipper Island is a tiny island with a big trash problem.
On an international coastal cleanup day, the island in the middle of Keehi Lagoon got a much needed make over.
Slipper Island isn’t really an island, it is just a berm offshore of the Keehi boat harbor.
It only rises out of the water by about four feet and is covered in keawe trees.
Its shores are also covered in trash.
“Predominately it’s trash bags, clothing, shoes, bottles, and sometimes syringes — it’s pretty bad,” said Mike Asato, with Na Alii Waterski Club.
Where does all the rubbish come from?
“From us. It washes down from Oahu. The wind will take it out and then it hits the harbor.
Slipper Island acts as a comb for airborne or seaborne debris,” said Matt Bickel with the Ocean Conservancy.
On the coastal cleanup day, members of the waterski clubs that use the island and crew members of the Hokulea picked up the plastic and took away the trash.
They even recorded the rubbish, to trace it back to its source.
“At this site, we get a good idea of the trash and debris that comes from Oahu as well as what comes from the ocean,” said Bickel.
It was exhausting work, in the blazing hot sun. After several hours, only a small part of Slipper Island had been cleaned.
Volunteers know it won’t take long before the trash-lined shores will be back again.
“It is always happening. In a month it will be close to this again. It is a constant battle that we fight,” added Asato.
Recently the state’s harbor division stepped up patrols, which cut down on homeless residents camping on Slipper Island.
Dumping remains a problem, for an island that already catches tons of trash.
So does the commitment of volunteers, not just on coastal cleanup days but also throughout the year.
“To be in one of the most beautiful places in the world, it is almost criminal that we allow places like this to exist. I feel like it our obligation to clean these places up,” stated Bickel.
The data on the types of trash is being collected by the Ocean Conservancy. By the end of September, you’ll be able to head to their website and see just how much waste washes up on our shores, and what kinds of rubbish people are dumping in the water.