This past weekend, Bureo partnered with the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, Algalita and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii to support Plastic Free Hawaii’s inaugural Youth Summit. Nearly one hundred students came together to discuss solutions to plastic pollution. Participants cleaned one of Oahu’s dirtiest beaches, created marine debris art and listened to inspirational leaders in the movement tell their stories.
The summit started with a beach clean up at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge at Kahuku Point. Despite the rain, students enthusiastically sifted through microplastics embedded in the high tide line and floating in tide pools along the beach. Oahu’s eastern shores continuously receive marine debris from the Pacific Gyre. Day after day, debris accumulates on this shoreline, washing ashore hundreds of pounds of derelict fishing gear and remnants of our throwaway society. Youth participants saw the issue first hand and began discussing amongst themselves how to be a part of the solution. Some students came up with ideas to purchase dishwashers for their cafeteria to stop the use of single-use plastic utensils. Others collected pieces of marine debris to share with friends and family back home.
Ethan Estess, an artist and marine scientist, spoke about “artivism,” a way to educate and motivate people through art to take action on issues they're passionate about. The art activity highlighted collected fishing nets and bottle caps. Students hand pressed these “stamps” onto reusable tote bags. Ethan is also working on an art installation to be displayed at Ehukai Beach Park during the Pipe Masters. He is creating a large wave sculpture out of marine debris, derelict fishing nets, and reclaimed lumber. Spectators at the event will be able to stand in the wave and take their own “Plastic Free Pipeline Pledge” to wipe out single-use plastics in their lives.
The second day of the Youth Summit focused on solutions to the problem of marine debris. Workshops were held on how to share your story to inspire others to join the movement. A panel discussed the many ways to help solve the issue of single-use plastics with representatives from the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, Bureo, Algalita, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and the Wild Kids Club. Christian Robbins, a youth environmental activist, moderated the panel. He left that day with an Ahi!
At Bureo, we strive to find solutions to prevent ocean plastic pollution, inspire future generations and initiate social change. The team looks forward to continuously supporting nonprofit efforts to educate students and communities on the issue of marine debris. Through educational events, like the Plastic Free Hawaii Youth Summit, we can educate communities, empowering them to rise up and be advocates for our ocean.