Welcome to SCHtories: An Origin SCHtory

Welcome to SCHtories

Aloha and welcome to the new Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i (SCH) website, education portal, resource center, and SCHtories. Hawai‘i and its extraordinary culture have been, and are, built on the power of mo'olelo - myth, legend, history...story. You'll often hear people in Hawai‘i open an invitation to "talk story" - so for us, Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i (SCH)tories was born to do just that with you - Talk Story. We want to translate our passion for inspiring local communities to care for their coastlines through this platform. SCH has its own unique tale of origin and how we successfully create impact within our mission.

Our goal is to do more then tell you what’s happened - our goal with SCHtories is to open a multimedia forum for you to directly interact with our mission, ambassadors, education resources, volunteer heroes, artists, science and research, breaking news, and our sponsors. To turn off the tap on plastic pollution we have to extend beyond the beach and into our everyday lives: Clean Beaches Start at Home. This concept is a modern adaption of the Hawaiian Ahupua'a system - traditionally the concept draws on the interconnectedness of all thing from mauka (mountain) to makai (ocean). Our world has been disconnected now for many decades and in order to reconnect ourselves to the health of a greater community we must start with our everyday decisions - SCHtories is here to connect the everyday moments and choices to solutions for Hawai‘i and solutions for island Earth. 

Kailua Microplastic: By @LethalLensPhoto

An Origin SCHtory

A decade ago Kahi Pacarro returned home from his travels with a new global perspective at age 30. Kahi found himself on Kailua Beach with his friends from New Zealand, looking at the wave that he grew up surfing. He looked down at the sand and saw something he had never noticed before - tiny fragments of plastic that peppered the sand with color that somehow didn't belong. Microplastics. Not everywhere like they are today, but enough to strike the eye  once they are open to look. Kahi had brought his New Zealand friends here to show them how clean and pristine Hawai‘i beaches were and they were shocked that this was the first time his eyes were open to what would become his life’s work. Those friends Kahi stood with were the founders of a New Zealand Non-Profit called Sustainable Coastlines.

Kahi reflected on his next moves,

Before being a businessman, I am and always will be a surfer. I realized that my success in business was having detrimental environmental effects on my passion but at the same time without it I may have never seen nor been inspired to do something about it. Many of the iconic surf locations we traveled to were being ruined by pollution, overdevelopment, crowds, and just lame attitudes. When I came back home to Hawai‘i an opportunity arose to remedy the status of the public's perception on our oceans and coastlines. I jumped at it and convinced a bunch of friends to come with me.”

Eight friends gathered around a rectangular glass table in Kaimuki. Three sat on a sketchy black faux leather couch and the other five sat casually on the scratched original wood floor stained with spilled liquids. Their goal was to make an impact in Hawai‘i. The first attempt at large scale impact in late 2009 was deemed unfeasible after six hard months of due diligence. The dream of bringing aquaponics to the world by creating a DIY garden bed to fit a small aquarium was just not feasible at the moment. Back to the glass table they went. This time they took inspiration from that same crew of ocean stewards from New Zealand who had stood with Kahi on Kailua Beach - Sam Judd and Camden Howitt from Sustainable Coastlines. Still at the table, the group decided unanimously to take a chance and host a large-scale cleanup focused on having a good time. They all chipped in $50 to buy the supplies and food and proceeded to plan and promote the event. In early February 2011, 123 people showed up to the cleanup! To that date, that was the biggest cleanup any of them had experienced and everyone had a great time. With prize giveaways, education booths, and an organized approach, the participants were keen to do it again. The short term goal was complete but the journey was just beginning.  .

Kahi and his Wife Louise - Co-founders of SCH

A decade has passed since Kahi came home, but SCH continues to make an impact and listens to the needs of our volunteers. The ethos we started with still resonates today - let's make it fun and the work will be easy. SCH has risen to a world recognized nonprofit having cleared over half a million pounds of debris from Hawaii’s coasts, united over 35,000 volunteers in a mission to inspire local communities to care for their coastlines, educated over 40,000 students in classrooms around the State, and connected with millions globally through social media and word of mouth. The movement is stronger than ever and SCH is growing its impact. Our efforts are advancing as we work on new innovations in education, composting, and plastic upcycling.

And despite all of this... plastic production, led by the fossil fuel industry, has accelerated at breakneck speed and the pollution continues to mount. Millions of tons of plastic enter our ocean every year. The ecosystems of Honua (Island Earth) are infected with the chemical laden after-effects of a throw-away mentality. Our food chains and the air we breath are mixed with the microscopic pieces of plastic that represent a decades long addiction to convenience.

That's the bad news. And to be honest, while we love to have fun, it is also imperative that we are always honest with the people that follow us. Part of that honesty is also sharing the stark realities of the powers that we are up against in our work. This will also be part of the future of SCHtories. It’s not hopeless though. Our mission lives strong and with your help we can turn off the tap on plastic pollution, but we have to start from the source. We have to look at our daily choices, exercise our civic powers, and demand more from the producers who create the products that we consume.

We’re here to help to lead you on that journey. Keep tuning in to our future SCHtories, sign up for our newsletter, join us at a future event, donate $1 a month from anywhere in the world and we’ll put it to work. We appreciate each and every one of you who contribute you time, effort, and resources to this movement.

Join the SCH ‘Ohana

Some of the Original SCH Crew

Early Coverage of Our Movement

The First SCH Earth Day Cleanup (circa the time flip phones were still holding on)

The Movement Keeps Growing - Cleanups in 2018 & 2019 Had as Many as 1500 Volunteers Attend a Single Event