Living Clean: Beach Cleanup as Seva

Taking responsibility for our planet’s well-being is a crucial part of a yogic lifestyle.

Wanderlust Festival is committed to sustainability. To learn more about our efforts, click here. Better yet, join us in O’ahu as we come together for a beach cleanup where the Earth needs us most. Can’t wait to see you there!


Welcome, 2017, a year that has the potential to be filled with adventure, excitement, and maybe even a few beachside vacations. But here’s the deal, folks: You won’t be able to fly into handstand on those white-sand shores if we don’t get our act together and take care of the beaches. In many places, it’s urgent.

Beach clean-up affects more than what we see from the shore. Maintaining a healthy beach means maintaining a healthy ocean. In the past 25 years, more than 144,606,491 pounds of trash have been collected from worldwide beaches spanning from Alaska to New Zealand. All of this waste is toxic to the environment for a myriad of reasons: Our animal friends often mistake trash for certain food sources, swallowing plastic bags resembling their normal food sources, and ultimately damaging their digestive tracts and leading them to starve. And if the animals survive, they end up in some of our favorite seafood dishes. Many of these animals are crucial to maintaining sustainable food chains, and polluting their environment means that contributing to environmental downfall.

Luckily there are a handful of organizations dedicated to promoting clean oceans. Heal the Bay, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, has made huge strides in protecting the Santa Monica Bay. This past year, they successfully campaigned against Measure O, a dangerous plan designed to drill oil from the Hermosa Beach seafloor. The Ocean Conservatory gathered this past September to carry out the International Coastal Cleanup, or the world’s largest volunteer effort to clean up waterways and the ocean.

Wanderlust is particularly a fan of Hawaii, celebrating the archipelago’s natural beauty with our annual yoga, music, and meditation festival. Like most of the world’s coastlines, Hawaii’s beaches are in need of mobilized community effort to protect the integrity of their land. It’s not enough to wish the sea clean, we need to gather and make it happen.

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Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, or SCH, is doing just that. Multiple times a year, SCH hosts large scale beach cleanups across the entire state, gathering folks of all different ages to change the status of their beloved beaches. In addition to large-scale coastal clean-up events, SCH provides educational programs that teach others on the importance of ocean cleanup, stress public awareness campaigns, promote waste diversion and education services, and host corporate team building events. These combined efforts provide a holistic approach to nurturing and maintaining healthy and sustainable ocean environments.

“Seeing the quick degradation of the quality of the beaches at the hands of man has really made me want to reverse the trend and do more than sustain,” says Kahi Pacarro, the Executive Director of SCH. Kahi believes that SCH doesn’t exist simply to clean the beaches–but to bring them new life.

He explains four main programs SCH: Cleanups, education, waste diversion education, and IVHQ. IVHQ, a volunteer abroad program, and SCH are currently working together to explore different facets of sustainability in an effort to keep the beaches clean. The cleanups are core part of the organization, and occur multiple times throughout the year. Anyone can host a cleanup, and they’re also great opportunities for corporate teambuilding events.

The education programs help bring the beach into schools, offices, community groups, classrooms, and living rooms; providing information on coastline impact into the daily lives of Hawaiian citizens. The waste diversion programs are opportunities for larger groups or festivals (like Wanderlust) to divert waste that would have otherwise gone to the incinerator or landfill. Our Oahu festival works with Kahi and SCH to ensure that compostable and recyclables are sent to their proper homes, while educating others to do the same at home.

How can you do your part? Check out some of SCH’s beach cleanups, or host your own, if applicable. Otherwise, one of the best things that you can do is educate yourself about plastic. Kahi continues, explaining how one of the biggest benefits has come from working with SCH has been seeing the dramatic impact that comes with people work together. Know that even if you don’t come in direct contact with a shoreline, your usage has an impact. You’ve got the power to both preserve and destroy: What do you plan to do?

“Yoga is all about breathing,” Kahi says. “Every other breath you take is derived from the ocean. Without a thriving Ocean, yoga is going to be a lot tougher. So will life.”

amanda-kohrAmanda Kohr is a 24-year-old writer and photographer with a penchant for yoga, food, and travel. She prefers to bathe in the moonlight rather than the sun, and enjoys living in a state of the three C’s: cozy, creative, and curious. When she’s not writing, you can find her driving her VW Bug, looking for the next roadside attraction or family diner. She also roams the Internet via her blog at cozycaravan.com