Jack Johnson details impact of microplastics on Hawaii’s beaches

·3-min read

Musician Jack Johnson has described the environmental impact of plastics on his home island of Hawaii, warning that tiny fragments are becoming part of the “make-up” of the beaches.

The 47-year-old singer-songwriter, who is also a campaigner for environmentalism and sustainability, was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu island and has been surfing since he was a child.

He is hosting a livestream concert from his home town to raise money for the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, which he founded with his wife Kim in 2008 and supports environmental education in the US state’s schools and communities, and the arts-focused Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation.

Johnson told the PA news agency: “Growing up here in Hawaii I have definitely seen both sides of the spectrum. It is a place where the natural environment has definitely had a profound effect on me growing up and spending so much time in the ocean and hiking in the mountains near my house.

“A lot of my favourite memories of being a kid are being surrounded by nature and sometimes with my family, sometimes with my friends, but always amongst this ocean that can make you feel really small. There is so much power that comes in and comes on to our shores all the time.”

The musician, best known for the songs Upside Down and Better Together, said growing up in Hawaii meant he wanted to “help protect nature in any way I can”.

He added: “But also here in Hawaii we are like a filter out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where all the plastic that is drifting in the ocean and all the microplastics are ending up on the beach on the east shores, which are the windward side of the island.

“If you go to most east beaches and especially if you find a little bay that can catch things, it is like a really colourful build-up of plastic all over the beach now. Sometimes if you dig down into the sand it is actually becoming part of the make-up of the sand, and the microplastics are becoming like grains of sand.

“When I see that, growing up as a surfer and seeing the beach getting more and more colourful, it makes me want to do whatever I can at our shows to try and eliminate the single-use plastic.”

Johnson recently released his eighth studio album, Meet The Moonlight, and has embarked on a national tour while attempting to offset the carbon produced.

Jack Johnson (Morgan Maassen/PA)
Jack Johnson (Morgan Maassen/PA)

He admitted he had once considered stopping touring over the impact on the natural world.

“There was a time where I questioned whether I was going to go back out on tour, just knowing the realities of what a large environmental footprint touring does have,” the musician said.

“Obviously, for me as an individual completely stopping touring would have the most positive effect.

“But when I really think about it, I think focusing on the industry I am part of and doing the best I can to make changes, because I know I am not the only person out there doing shows, so these venues are going to continue to have bands filling them every night.”

Johnson now works with venues to introduce reusable pint cup programmes and uses his concerts to work with local non-profits so they can showcase their work.

Live From Hawaii will stream via Driift on Saturday July 30. Tickets are on sale now at https://driift.link/JackJohnson and each ticket gives access to 48-hour unlimited video on demand replays.

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