A beautiful, sunny day cast its rays upon us, as our 60 volunteers arrived at Lahaina Harbor to board a Trilogy catamaran for the June Blue’Aina. Sponsored by the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, our community volunteers and the members of our amazing non-profit recipients this month, the Sierra Club Maui, were eager to get started! Wasting no time, we set sail with the warm winds at our backs and made our way up the West Maui coast to the Cliff House, for an underwater reef cleanup.
Located in Kapalua, Cliff House was originally built in 1940 and used by the managers of the historic miles-wide Honolua Plantation in West Maui. A popular cliff jumping spot (and so, aptly named!), the house faces the gorgeous Maui coastline, with views of both Lana'i and Moloka’i islands, and unobstructed (truly life-changing) sunsets. The Cliff House is now managed by Montage Kapalua Bay and is a very popular spot for private events on the island. But because of the increased foot traffic from both these private groups and also the steady stream of locals who swim in its protected coves, Cliff House is actually a popular spot for our reef cleanups! On previous occasions, we’ve successfully hauled away buckets of fishing line, dozens of lures, and even large, abandoned chunks of metal on the ocean floor.
This day, however, it appears that our ‘aina is being well cared for (which we can’t complain about!), as our 60 volunteers only managed to haul away a few scattered pieces of sea glass and one lone glass bottle. So back we went aboard the catamaran, with visions of delicious warm, gooey cinnamon rolls awaiting us (mahalo, Trilogy Excursions)! With our bellies full, we settled in to dry off in the bright sunshine, as the Sierra Club Maui presented a little overview of their organization to all of us.
With our bellies full, we settled in to dry off in the bright sunshine, as the Sierra Club Maui presented a little overview of their organization to all of us. The Sierra Club Maui has been operating on Maui for over 40 years and is a certified 501c4 non-profit. What’s that, you ask? It essentially requires an organization to be exclusively not for profit, while also specifically promoting social welfare. And wow, do they do an amazing job at both of these, for all of us who are lucky enough to call Maui our home!
Sierra Club Maui's Mission Statement:
Explore, enjoy and protect the wild places of the Earth. Practice and promote the responsible use of the the Earth’s ecosystems and resources. Educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment, and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
Involved in dozens of campaigns, including the OxyBenzone Ban and Together for Maui, the Sierra Club also champions smaller initiatives as well, with efforts to put an end to sand mining (many locations on-island house the ancestral bones of ancient Hawaiians), and to improve Lahaina's wastewater treatment. As a member of the coalition of Together for Maui, the Sierra Club urges the practice of sustainable agriculture and conservation, and helps to bring together communities who aim to protect affordable housing on Maui.
But perhaps the most well-known cause that the Sierra Club supports - we’re sure you’ve heard a lot about it too, in the news – is the protection of our precious coral reef! The Club hosts events and continuously speaks out about the necessity to ban hazardous chemicals used in sunscreens all around the world. Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are two of these extremely harmful chemicals and are used in over 3,500 sunscreen products! The presence of these chemicals in our ocean waters is the equivalent of dropping a figurative poison bomb on the Earth’s coral reefs. During a 2015 study, scientists estimated that around 14 THOUSAND tons of sunscreen ends up in reefs around the world each year (pardon us while we go cry in the corner), which is simply devastating to their future survival.
Creating a habitat for literally thousands of animals, the ocean’s ecology is in a doom cycle if it continues down this path, with reefs dying at alarming rates in recent years, likely caused by the boom in tropical-location-based tourism. THE GOOD NEWS?! Just this year in 2018, Hawai’i passed a bill (set to take effect in 2021) that made it the first state in the U.S. to ban certain harmful ingredients in sunscreen. A huge step for coral (and the world!) and we so appreciate all the efforts that the Sierra Club has made, bringing even more awareness to such an important cause.
Now that you know all about our non-profit, we of course wouldn’t forget to mention our generous corporate sponsor, the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas! Last year, Westin opened these beautiful, shiny new resort Villas, and we are so pleased that they are continuing their long-standing support of Trilogy’s Blue’Aina campaign. This year marks their second sponsorship of our reef cleanup program, truly exemplifying their three core business pillars of culture, community & sustainability, and furthers their positive reputation within our little island community (and with us)! There will always be a place in our hearts for a profitable company who actively gives back to their land and strives to be environmentally aware in all aspects of their business. A huge mahalo for their ten volunteers that came to help our cleanup!
And there you have it! Our June Blue’Aina is in the books, and while it was not a record-breaking bucket of debris that we hauled away, we believe that even the littlest bit goes a long way.
One last thing - a heads up! The Blue’Aina campaign is taking a break from our traditional underwater reef cleanups for the summer, turning our focus to land and outreach education efforts. We are excited to invite you to join us for our FREE July 12th event at Dog and Duck Irish Pub in Kihei, where we will co-host a benefit Trivia Night for Hui O Ka Wai Ola, another local non-profit. The event will run from 7:00pm to 10:00pm, and is sure to be a fun, tasty night for any who want to join!