On the morning of Sunday, Sept. 30, Alexander & Baldwin employees pulled on gloves, grabbed sifters and buckets, and set to work on Kalama Beach in Kailua. Seniors from two local high schools, Kailua High and Kalaheo High, joined in the beach cleanup efforts and earned grant support for their respective Project Grads from A&B’s Kokua Giving program.

This event was held in partnership with Kailua Beach Adventures and Kailua artist Leanna Wolff. Participants were encouraged to bring in old sunscreen containing reef-toxic chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, and swap them for reef-safe alternatives provided by Raw Elements.

A&B employees are all smiles at the beach clean-up! Many A&B employees brought their entire families out to help clean the beach.

Leanna Wolff, who A&B commissioned to create a painting for the Lau Hala Shops lobby, often incorporates beach microplastic into her artwork. The Lau Hala Shops painting will include several plastic pieces that A&B employees have collected from this Kalama Beach clean-up. This makes the painting even more special, as the piece will include some elements contributed by the heart and soul of A&B – our people.

There was an excellent turnout for the beach clean-up, with thirty employees bringing 35 friends and family members to help out. With the addition of the high school students and some members of the community, more than 100 people were in attendance!

It was astounding and sobering to see how much microplastic was hidden in the beach. The volunteers used sifters to strain the sand and pick out plastic and debris. Most of the plastic pieces were blue, green, or white, which Leanna explained is due to the fact that many marine animals, unfortunately, mistake the red or pink microplastic as shrimps and ingest them. The goal was to remove as much plastic as possible so it did not end up back in our ocean.

At the end of the beach clean-up, the volunteers enjoyed a delicious bento donated by A&B and their tenant Fatboy’s Kailua. In total, the volunteers collected over 160 pounds of plastic and waste. The plastic will be sent to Parley for the Oceans, a company that recycles ocean plastic into products for companies such as Method Home and Adidas.