There is nothing special about the images on this page, at least not in the way of image quality or composition. What IS truly special is that these photos capture the very moments when our family woke up to the realities of ocean pollution and the effects of single use plastics on our planet. It’s the day we started asking ourselves, “how can we do more?”
On June 8th 2018, World Oceans Day, my family and I took part in a beach clean up near our home on the South side of Maui. It was early in the morning when we arrived on site. My 13 year old was still wiping the sleep from his eyes while my 3 year old was amped up but not really understanding that she was about to get her first taste, although a bit premature, of hard work.
We were handed large bags for collecting trash, garden gloves and a bit of direction as to which areas needed the most attention. At first glance this is a pristine beach. One that we drive by every day and frequent at least once a week. Getting started I expected us to find the occasional bottle cap or soda can. I was shocked at what we found. The debris came in all shapes and sizes…old clothes, metal shelving, even a rubber tire. All hidden in the tall grass between the road and the beach. The big stuff was easy to spot and only took a short time to collect. The little stuff on the other hand was a different story. Endless small pieces of plastic, what I now know to be micro plastics, hundreds of cigarette butts and at least a dozen plastic straws.
We did our part, working in the hot sun picking piece by piece. Quicker than I would have guessed our bags began to fill up. At first I found myself trying to keep the kids motivated. “remember why we’re doing this guys, we need to take care of the things that take care of us”, “we need to help keep the beaches clean”, “lets show our love and respect for Maui and all the amazing things it gives to us”. The kids trekked on, not saying much but keeping their heads down and collecting one piece at a time. Until I finally said something that seemed to strike a nerve, “remember guys, turtles can eat this stuff and it can make them super sick". Their heads popped up and looked at me. Suddenly they were more animated. They started asking questions. Lots of “what’s, why’s and how’s” about turtles, like the ones we see at the Maui Ocean Center, being affected by the things we were finding on the beach. I couldn’t answer many of those questions at the time but I shared in their concern and wonder.
After the first mention of saving turtles and for the rest of our time on that beach, my son was on a mission to do whatever he could to keep every bit of plastic he found out of the ocean and out of the bellies of sea turtles. Even my daughter as young as she was found a connection that she could understand. With every…single…piece of trash found she said the words, “Dad, a turtle almost ate this”. An adorable habit that still continues to this day. Everywhere we go she is the first person to pick up trash and while throwing it away reminds us that because of her some turtle gets to live another day. This proves, at least to me, the power of sharing these lessons with our kids while they’re young. The earlier we get them thinking this way, the cleaner our future is likely to be.
Our ride home from the beach that day found my son and I planning our next beach clean up and brainstorming other ways that we might be able to do more.
I wanted to learn as much as I could about single use plastics. As I I found out more I began to share my findings with my family. I quickly started to realize the importance of taking the first step and incorporating the reduce, reuse, recycle mindset into our daily routine. For us, jumping on the “straw free” band wagon was the “first step” that worked for us.
I will warn you however, once you start on this journey you wont be able to stop. The more you think about your straw when you go for your morning cold brew, the more you will start to notice that plastic waste is everywhere. It really is pretty shocking. It’s sad to see what we are doing to this planet in exchange for personal convenience.
Now let’s be clear, plastic straws are far from our biggest problem when it comes to ocean pollution. We could eliminate every plastic straw from the planet tomorrow and our oceans and marine life would still be in very serious trouble. It’s not just about the straw, it’s about what the straw represents. The single use plastic straw is known as the “gateway plastic”. If we can start by skipping the plastic straw and reaching for an alternative like bamboo, it may be the encouraging reminder that we need to forgo other single use plastics such as bags and bottles as well. Maybe then we can really start to make a dent in some of the issues affecting our oceans.
Our “first step” as a company is our bamboo straw; reusable, sustainable, 100% from nature and after all is said and done, compostable. As I said, it worked for our family and helped us to live with less waste, hopefully it will work for yours.
Moving forward we will be adding other products that we feel are a good fit and align with our mission to live free of single use plastics. If you have an idea or if there is something specific that you’d like to see, we would love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading!
Jason & Family