Ocean Blue News Blog
by Karisa Arterbury
People often ask us about what inspires us to keep riding the Ocean Blue wave. The top inspiration is meeting each of you and learning about your own inspirations. We recently had the privilege to speak with Kimber Hoang-Street, a Maui resident and long-time environmental steward. While we got to hear about her current experiences of cleaning Maui’s beaches, she has been taking care of her natural surroundings for many years.
As a former resident and business owner of Corvallis in Oregon, Kimber remembers raking up littered plastic garbage and cigarette butts in front of her restaurant along with the leaves that clogged street drains. Nobody asked her to do it. She’s just always felt driven to take care of the environment. For Kimber, it’s for the town, for the community. She equates it to cleaning your house, asking, “Why should we have garbage all around us? Unless you want your home to look like that too.”
What got Kimber started cleaning beaches in Maui is going to the beach with her husband. He kite surfs in Maui and she likes to go down to the beach with him and pick up garbage. She is really excited that “now he’s bringing his own bag!” Garbage washes in with ocean tides, so she started out using a kite bag to pick up microplastics. She feels that if we use the beach, we should give a little bit back to the beach, even for just 5 or 10 minutes. Kimber feels this is important, “because we have to respect where we live. People don’t think about the tiny pieces of plastic or garbage on the ground or in the dirt.” She stewards when hiking or walking and her example has inspired other kite surfers to start doing it too.
Where did this strong environmental ethic come from for Kimber? She expressed how her parents taught her to do this when she was little. When people aren’t taught to respect the Earth like we would our own home then we can visibly see the environmental repercussions. On her travels around the globe, in underdeveloped and developed countries alike, she sees how such a lack of respect impacts the ocean. Sometimes there is a lack of infrastructure like garbage service, while in other places she wonders if people are thinking, “I can save a few steps if I don’t have to walk to that garbage can.”
This greatly saddens Kimber, but she’s doing something about it. She pays kids to pick up trash on her travels just because she wants to give them money anyway. Her goal was also to encourage kids to clean up. Kimber knows that if we can get one person at a time to start cleaning up the world around them, that’s all it takes. She stated, “instead of running in the sand, they can pick up and say ‘look what I got!’ It needs to be part of daily chores, like making the bed.”
She believes strongly that cleaning up your neighborhood is contagious and sets out frequently to teach through example. When we talked to Kimber, she was planning to go down to the beach later that day to pick up in front of people while wearing a smile on her face. Kimber knows that if she can encourage even one person, especially a child, then she is making a big difference. When people see her with a smile on her face, she is often asked about what she’s picking up. This gives her an opportunity to share what she’s up to on the beach.
While she cleans up the beach to influence others, Kimber also does it for her own health and well-being. It’s meditational and she truly enjoys herself. She loves that she gets to touch the Earth, get good exercise, and she talked about how the meditational peacefulness is great for your brain. Kimber thinks some people are missing out because they could be moving around instead of sun tanning in one spot.
She’s excited about Ocean Blue and how we promote community involvement because she understands that she can’t pick up the whole world alone. Kimber has inspired us to tell more personal stories like hers. Awareness of the problems our ocean faces is essential for motivating change, and so is inspiring people to make stewardship a part of everyone’s daily lifestyle. Please reach out to Karisa to tell your story at Karisa@oceanblueproject.org with “My Ocean Blue Story” in the subject line.
Thank you for sharing the Ocean Blue News!