Instead of flowers, heavy springtime showers brought foam cups, paper plates, plastic bags and other rubbish into John Sadowski’s driveway in Ewa Beach. When he went outside to clean up the mess, he noticed a trail of trash leading to the Ewa Beach drainage channel up the road. He followed and was shocked at what he found.
“When I got closer to the channel, I noticed the debris getting thicker and thicker with such items as a mattress, foam pad, portable TVs, large branches with tons of leaves, more plastic bottles, containers, etc. When I got to the channel and stood on one side of it, I saw a dead animal that looked like a small dog or large cat,” he recalls.
To combat the flood of litter, Sadowski created the group Save Our Surf and Seals (S.O.S.S.), which holds monthly cleanups of the channel and surrounding beach. The first project launched on Aug. 15 with 20 volunteers, and on Aug. 29 the group collected 10 bags of opala with the city’s Adopt-a-Block event.
The high school mentor (he’s been with the DOE for 38 years and Leilehua High for 35!) has drawn helpers from all over Oahu: the Campbell High girls volleyball team; Leilehua Lettermans’Club and AVID students; Iwalani Sato from the City and County of Honolulu; and neighbors and friends he calls the “real environmental heroes.”
“Through our efforts, I notice more people wanting to help. I also notice more people being conscious about what is left on the beach when they leave,” shares Sadowski, who was honored by the mayor in August with a Laulima Award for his efforts in keeping Hawaii beautiful.
“I wasn’t doing this for awards but to help the community stay clean and, more importantly, for future generations to continue to enjoy the beach and ocean,” says Sadowski, who was an avid surfer before a car accident last December left him with hip problems. He now lives in Ewa Beach with his high school sweetheart of 40 years, Sharan, and his mother, whom he cares for.
Those who wish to join the cleanup should come prepared with covered shoes or rubber boots, a hat, sunscreen and plenty of drinking water. Trash bags will be supplied, but if you have rakes, handheld litter picks, a wheelbarrow or pickup truck to haul stuff away, Sadowski says bring it on down.
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