Let’s do our part and keep Kauai beautiful

Kauai is beautiful. Everyone would agree with that statement.

Here’s another statement we can probably all agree on, too: There is a lot of trash on Kauai’s roadsides.

It’s sad, but true as two recent letter writers have pointed out that Kauai has a trash problem. Whether you’re driving down Rice Street, Kapule Highway or a stretch of Kuhio Highway on your way to the North Shore or headed to Ahukini Pier, it’s pretty much a sure thing you’ll see garbage on the roadside. Some areas are worse than others.

Some off-the-beaten-path roads have become junkyards. Some folks believe this is a growing problem on Kauai and something must be done about it.

Agreed. We need to do a better job of cleaning up and then keeping it clean. And Kauai deserves our best to keep it beautiful. This island is far too precious to be marred with litter not just on roads, but left behind on beaches, piers and parks. It’s not a question of whether tourists or residents are making the mess. It’s about everyone pitching in and doing their part.

Now, we’re not suggesting folks stop their cars along the highway and collect trash. We don’t want anyone getting in an accident for the sake of getting that paper cup or plastic container off the road. What we could suggest are these few things:

w Personal responsibility. Take care of any trash you generate and dispose of it correctly. With the looks of things, many of us aren’t going a great job at that. If you want proof, just drive down Rice Street toward Nawiliwili Harbor. You’ll see a lot of bottles and cans and random bits of waste on the ground.

w Adopt A Highway. The State of Hawaii Department of Transportation Adopt-A-Highway program is coordinated by the respective Highways Division District offices: Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii. If you’d like to help cleanup in a safe, organized fashion, this is a good way to do it.

w If you’re at a park and see litter others left behind, go ahead and pick it up and place it in the trash where it belongs. Just because others are careless, disrespectful and lazy, doesn’t mean we should ignore the mess they leave behind. We can do better. It might seem maddening to suggest we clean up after some slob, but it’s better than the alternative, which is leaving it there.

If you need a little more convincing, here’s what the virtual Museum of Litter has to say:

Five reasons to care about litter:

1. We’re poisoning the planet. We are responsible for toxins in our lakes, rivers and the ocean.

2. We’re killing and maiming birds, fish and turtles. Albatross have died because they mistook plastic for food, ate it and fed it to their young.

3. Direct cost to taxpayers. In the U.S. an estimated $11.5 billion each year is spent on litter cleanup.

4. Indirect cost: Lower property values; loss of commerce and in vacation spots, tourist dollars.

5. It’s Illegal. We should be litter-free because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s illegal. But since it is illegal, why don’t we enforce the law?

Those who live on Kauai should take the extra steps to see to it the place they live is clean, well-kept and healthy. And those who visit should be sure to leave nothing behind and take with them only great memories.

Together, as our letter writers suggest, we will always have our beautiful Kauai if we will accept our roles toward that goal.

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