What started as just another day at the beach for Felice Langkamp (pictured above, center) turned into something quite different. Felice, 11, was at Lanikai Beach that March day when she noticed 10 bottles and cans buried in nearby bushes and sand. She then enlisted the help of a few friends - including Kyle and Scott McWhirter, 7 and 11, above - and started a “treasure hunt” of sorts, gathering a total of 250 bottles and cans, four beach chairs, three beer boxes, three slippers, two diapers, a fishing net and various plastic utensils and discarded beach toys.
Felice and her rag-tag group of trash-gatherers then asked shocked onlookers to donate their empty bottles, which she says she was certain would otherwise end up back on the beach. With the help of their parents, Felice and her friends toted trash bags overflowing with recyclables to a local HI-5 depository. The rest went to the dump.
“It astonishes me that people who come to use nature for their pleasure do not take back the stuff they use to either a trash can or to a recycling center,” laments her mother Stephanie. “Felice is growing up with a clear understanding about what humans have done to the planet. She understands that her generation is the one to seriously deal with it, and she knows how much technology is out there already to deal with it.”
Stephanie explains that she and her partner Bert Wissig make sure Felice is aware of her surroundings because of the heavy emphasis on recycling in their native Germany.
“She is exposed to documentaries such as Who Killed The Electric Car and An Inconvenient Truth and watches Animal Planet and National Geographic all the time,” Mom states.
“Walking by trash is as bad as putting it there in the first place,” Felice says.
April 26 marks Keep Hawaii Beautiful Day, the designated day when volunteers across Oahu and Neighbor Islands will gather at various sites in an effort keep our aina clean as part of the nationwide Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup, which takes place annually from March 1 through May 31. “Earth Day is for us every day, every minute,” Stephanie says. “We all believe to treat each of us, people and our environment with respect. Give and you will receive.”
Nani O Waianae, a non-profit organization comprised of grassroots volunteers, is in charge of the Oahu cleanup. For more information or to get involved, call 484-1000 or 696-1920 or visit www.kab.org
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