Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii Keeps Oahu Tidy with Pop-Up Cleanups

Volunteer Tucker helps remove trash from the once (and now again) beautiful, clear stream at a pop-up cleanup.
Photo: Jason Hills


Back in April, shortly after Earth Day, photos of trash overrunning Queen Liliuokalani Botanical Garden went viral. Fast-food takeout cups, garbage bags and even a mattress littered the once-beautiful picnic grounds. Though the City and County of Honolulu has regular, scheduled cleanups of the area, it clearly wasn’t enough. Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii decided to do something about it.

“Everything leads to the ocean,” says Kahi Pacarro, executive director of SCH. Normally, the group sticks to cleaning up marine debris and educating people about the impact of plastics and litter on our beaches, but the public outcry over the park prompted the organization to host a pop-up cleanup before it got that far. To Pacarro, it was only a matter of time before the detritus made its way to the ocean. “Activities away from the coastline—not just how you deal with trash but the products you buy in everyday life—have a tangible effect on our beaches.”

The folks at SCH mostly do big, community cleanups, such as the June 21 South Shore Cleanup of Kakaako, Ala Moana, Waikiki, Diamond Head and Kahala, in which almost 1,000 volunteers removed thousands of pounds of trash. But they also advocate for change on a larger scale by working to educate schools, clubs and community groups.

“Our goal is to get as many people down to the beach to see what’s washing up,” Pacarro says, so they can change their lifestyles and see firsthand why they should care about plastics and the environment. He stresses the importance of cleanups and community involvement.

To find out when the next SCH cleanup is, visit or follow the group on Facebook (Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii), Instagram and Twitter.