Back in June, MMN staff arrived on Moloka‘i with a full task list: complete an island-wide reconnaissance of illegal dumpsites, check in with used motor oil and household battery recycling partners, and orchestrate a beach cleanup.
MMN staff visited several members in the community to hear their thoughts on the presence of litter on Moloka’i.
It didn’t take long for us to see that Moloka‘i is CLEAN! Litter along the island’s public spaces and roadways is few and far between. At our beach cleanup at One Ali’i Park, the average piece of litter we found was smaller than your thumb.
After speaking with several folks, it became clear as to why: the strong sense of social accountability empowered by a communal spirit of aloha ‘āina is what keeps litter at bay.
Speaking to several aunties at the Maunaloa General Store revealed the secret to Moloka’i’s success: when keiki throw any piece of litter on the ground — be it a soda can or food wrapper — folks don’t let it slide. These aunties will let Junior know he needs to pick up that rubbish and put it in its proper place. And if their scoldings aren’t enough, Auntie will remind him that she knows his parents and will be sure to share with them what happened if he doesn’t remove that litter from the ground.
Simple and small teaching moments like these count. Understanding from a young age that your community holds certain expectations from you is a strong motivator to do what is pono by that community. When our shared values include picking up after yourself in public spaces, the entire community benefits from a cleaner, healthier, more beautiful island.
It was wonderful to see how the Moloka’i community promotes a strong sense of aloha ‘āina. We personally felt that aloha at One Ali‘i – practically every car that passed by gave us a wave or a honk as we cleaned the park!
Since our trip in June, staff have returned to Moloka’i (just last week!) to recruit groups and individuals to participate in this year’s “Get the Drift and Bag It!” cleanup campaign. This annual campaign kicks off September 17 across the state in an effort to eradicate marine debris from our shorelines locally and raise awareness for the need to prevent litter globally.
Moloka’i is a strong example of how community buy-in can have widespread results on the health of an island. The more we talk about and participate in activities that honor the preservation of our unique coastal environments, the more engrained those values will be in our collective conscience.
Want to get involved in your community? Learn more about “Get the Drift and Bag It!” here!