Hawaii does not have a litter prevention office. That leaves it up to us as a community to make sure we protect our beaches and ocean and the animals who make it their home. STSTI formed Adopt-A-Beach Hawaii which runs monthly beach cleanups and other eco-events, collects data on marine debris, and works to improve recycling systems at local beach parks on the island of Oahu. You can help Adopt-A-Beach Hawaii by volunteering for a beach cleanup (by yourself or with a group), contributing community appreciation gifts, or donating money.

Save The Sea Turtles International has sponsored beach clean-ups on the North Shore of Oahu every month for over eight years. Thousands of turtles and other sea life are injured or killed each year worldwide due to land and marine debris. We are changing that, one beach at a time, with Adopt-A-Beach Hawaii. We hope the state of Hawaii and UH will join the program. STSTI is also involved in getting recycling on all Hawaii beaches.


We have many programs and need volunteers! Certificates & community service accredited letters are available. Aloha and Mahalo (thank you) for keeping our beaches beautiful!

To participate in a beach cleanup:

  • Check our calendar and review available dates
  • Use our contact form to let us know when you will be attending, and how many people are in your group
  • Print out the forms on our forms page, review all materials, and bring them with you to the cleanup


Adopt-A-Beach Hawaii is in constant need of motivational gifts for volunteers, materials and safety equipment, and financial contributions. You can learn more on our donate page.


The Environmental Protection Agency and the Center for Marine Conservation developed a national program. The National Marine Debris Monitoring Program was a six-year study (now completed), and was designed to determine the sources of litter on the beach. STSTI is continuing the program. The information gained through this program gives researchers in Hawaii a better understanding of Hawaiian trends in the sources and types of land and marine litter. For more information on the six-year study, visit the National Marine Debris Monitoring Program website at

In 2009, we collected 8,530 pounds of trash, 89,253 debris items! Including labor and supplies, we saved the state of Hawaii approximately $15,000. In addition, six under-water clean ups provided 186 pounds of lead weights collected and recycled back to the fishermen.

Overall, cigarettes filters, cigar tips, and tobacco packaging (with a grand total this year of 52,600) remains–year after year–over 50% of the debris found. This has been a horrible trend for the 10 years of tracking debris items in the whole state of Hawaii. With the car manufactures no longer providing ashtrays, and public ashtrays disappearing, the public is using our Aina. Of great help would be for Hawaii rental car companies to provide disposable ashtrays in cars (which could be taken to the beaches, etc). Better yet would be a no smoking ban on all beaches.

Please join us and make a difference!


All sites are chosen based on the study’s beach selection criteria. Each survey site must consist of an easily accessible beach study area of 500 meters (1/3 of a mile). The beach site should be sand to small gravel in composition, have direct access to the sea, and not be cleaned on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly) by beach maintenance staff. We also want to make sure that the beach site is accessible year-round by our volunteers. We track endangered sea birds, sea turtles, marine mammals, endangered plants, etc.

The marine debris surveys and cleanups are conducted on a 30-day interval. A program calendar with dates of scheduled surveys is provided to each survey director. Volunteers have up to three days after the scheduled survey date to complete the survey and beach cleanup. Volunteers should understand that each survey would take–on average–one to two hours to complete.

Volunteers will conduct the marine debris surveys and beach cleanups along the same 500-meter study site each month. It is very important that all volunteers know exactly where the study site begins and ends, so that data consistency can be maintained from survey to survey. Each study site should have a distinctive marker or designated landmark marking the boundaries, and–if possible–should include the road/highway in front of the beach area.


  • Is the amount of debris on your coastlines decreasing?
  • What are the major sources of the debris?
  • The yearly information is passed on to the Governor and Mayor of each county for action and prevention.

An outgrowth of The Ocean Conservancy’s hugely successful International Coastal Cleanup, the STSTI takes the idea of beach cleanups a step further by standardizing the data collection for Hawaii using a scientifically valid protocol to determine the status and trends of marine debris pollution. As a result, volunteer participants become real “citizen scientist” while keeping Hawaii beautiful and targeting problem trash.

When a group Adopt-A-Beach, we ask for a three-month minimum commitment for a monthly study of the beach. We have the forms that need to be completed each month and sent in or imputed on the web site. The group receives a community benefit of displaying their banner on the day of the clean up and newspaper recognition. Also, a certificate is awarded to the group. It is very helpful to attend a scheduled clean up prior to starting one.


We have been doing underwater clean ups six to seven times a year. We feel we need to establish a scientifically controlled program using undersea maps to identify reoccurring trash, nets, and debris in our ocean in Hawaii.


The program is unique in that it relies solely on the use of trained volunteers for data collection. This program would not be possible without your help and the help of other volunteers across the sate.

It is very important to understand the protocol of this study so that all data is collected in a standardized method. This will ensure that all data is reproducible and comparable between sites; it is the basis of a scientific study. The following pages will alert you–the volunteer–to the responsibilities you have, what you need to bring to each monthly survey, the specific walking pattern to follow while conducting the survey, specifics of the data card, and descriptions of some of the 30 specific debris items. Please take time to familiarize yourself with this card. Your survey director will be able to answer any other questions you may have.


  • Arrive on time and be prepared to conduct the survey. Most surveys will take between 1 and 2 hours to complete
  • Ensure that your data collection is accurate and informative. Please complete totals at the end of the survey with your name
  • Conduct a safe survey (see safety tips)
  • Return completed data cards and materials promptly to your Survey Director following the monthly survey


We recommend that volunteers bring or wear the following:

  • Comfortable clothes/bathing suit
  • Sandals or tennis shoes
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat
  • Drinking water (We have Ice water cooler on site)
  • Data card, clipboard and pencils (provided by survey director)
  • Trash bags and gloves (provided by survey director)


It is very important that you use safety precautions while conducting each monthly survey. We recommend the following tips be followed:

  • Wear gloves provided and thick-soled shoes or sandals
  • Be careful with sharp objects and syringes. If in doubt, do not pick up
  • Stay out of bird nesting areas (now mostly fenced)
  • Leave the beach at the first sign of lightning or large waves
  • Watch out for and avoid wildlife. Make a note of what you saw on data sheet
  • Don’t lift heavy objects or try to pull partially buried large nets or objects. Mark where encountered
  • Do not go near any large drums or chemical containers
  • Have one of the volunteers carry a cellular phone in case of emergency. Carry a list of emergency phone numbers including local animal rescue and stranding numbers
  • We have a first aid kit on hand during each survey at meeting site (include antiseptics, bandages, and insect bite treatments)
  • Broken glass in bags can cut legs; use separate small bag (provided) for broken glass

For more information about beach clean ups, please visit