Local trash cleanup group wants to expand mission to include homeless

Since 2014, the environmental group 808 Cleanups has grown from just a few members to thousands of volunteers. They’ve made it their mission to keep Hawaii clean, and while they oversaw a lot of rubbish taken out of our environment last year, there’s more work to be done in 2017.

The increase in trash totals is due to more volunteers and better documentation of the group’s clean-up efforts.

Looking ahead, 808 Cleanups is hoping to improve not only the environment, but the lives of the homeless community as well.

From hiking trails to beaches and everywhere in between, the group made a big impact in 2016. Volunteers picked up more than 83,000 pounds of trash, over 22,000 nails from bonfire pallets and nearly 15,000 pounds of marine debris.

Just yesterday alone, 808 Cleanups picked up about 2,000 pounds of netting and other items at Kahuku Beach.

Executive director Michael Loftin says they commonly see “people not taking the time to take care of the environment and they think one piece of litter isn’t a big deal.”

This year, picking up trash won’t be the only focus of 808 Cleanups: They’re looking at starting a homeless outreach program that would essentially kill two birds with one stone

“We’re looking at some other cities that have incorporated getting the homeless involved in cleanup and stewardship,” Loftin said.

Basically, the idea is to get out there and reach out to these people directly. “So meet up with them and provide them a work opportunity for that day. They provide stewardship to a park and they get managed and they get food, they get water, they get payment for that day, and they also get a path to progress.”

The homeless project would ideally be a joint effort between non-profits and the local government. The coalition would also provide homeless outreach resources, treatment and other assistance.

Loftin says “I think we got a lot of people on all levels, government, non-profit and in the community that want to do it, so I think we can get it together. … We got to give it a shot, because if we don’t try, how are we going to know if it works?”

808 Cleanups also plans to reach out to the keiki by making presentations in schools to encourage care for the environment.

If you’d like to help and get involved with the group, click here.

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