3,500 International Coastal Cleanup volunteers hit the beach in Singapore today!

More than 3,500 volunteers from some 80 schools, corporate groups and agencies will take to beach and mangroves of Singapore early this morning to collect, categorise and remove trash from our shores – for the 22nd year!

We chose to work the low tide this week before the rest of the world conduct their cleanups on the third Saturday of September as identified by Ocean Conservancy, the international coordinator.

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore Zones  Sites  Google Maps

The cleanup act in itself will inform and educate the adults and school children who participate. Within a week, the full, detailed data set is published on our webpage for public use (e.g. see the 2013 results). Talks extend the outreach of the data and through an internship sponsored by IKEA (proceeds from the sale of cornware take-away boxes in IKEA), our youth speakers have reached more than 2,000 people through some 20 talks.

Several of us are taking the data and its lessons into classrooms at the tertiary level to emphasise the issue of marine trash, the environment and the 3R’s – we feel this to be a particularly significant topic in Singapore and are concerned that this is somehow not yet ingrained in our lives.

We convey our thanks to the many NParks managers who work with us, particularly in Pulau Ubin but also at Sungei Buloh, Sembawang, Pasir Ris, Pulau Ubin, Changi/Tanah Merah and ECP. And we very grateful to NEA’s Department of Public Cleanliness who have handled trash removal at sites around the island with promptness and efficiency.

This year, the Singapore Land Authority and Singapro Police Force have been very helpful in facilitated access to what are now restricted areas in sites at Lim Chu Kang and Tanah Merah.

Our volunteer Zone Captains range from decades-old veterans to fresh-faced university undergraduates – we realise the problem of marine trash is a significant one and are appreciative of the many individuals on the ground in various agencies, including school teachers, who address this all year round.

Today’s effort by volunteers is, in a way, also a a quiet but heartfelt celebration of the tenacity of the many people who all work to make environmental responsibility a hallmark of all Singaporeans.

Alright then, let’s hit the beach!

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ICCS Sat 13 Sep 2014 – Independents battle marine trash with Toddycats at Tanah Merah 7!

On Sat 13 September 2014, close to four thousand volunteers from 60 organisations will head to the shorelines of Singapore to battle marine trash. Our Zone Captains have been working tirelessly with these organisations and we are looking forward to ICCS!

Where do individual volunteers without an organisation do? They can register to help as “Independents”- the term we use for people motivated enough to join the coastal cleanup on their own.

You can join us by registering here by Wednesday, 10 September 2014!

This year they will be joining Toddycats at Tanah Merah Beach 7 where a 800m beach with lots of plastic trash awaits us!

The Toddycats & Independents team have been dispatched to Tanah Merah 7 this year because it is a tough site with lots of plastic trash scattered all along the 800m shore – and we have to transfer all the trash which we and others collect to the Trash Disposal Site at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. The route to the beach will be down the side of a concrete bund so will all have to careful not to slip!

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Several groups will be on hand that day as well:

  1. Hougang Secondary School
  2. Jurong Secondary School
  3. National Environment Agency
  4. Toddycats
  5. Starbucks
  6. ITE College East

We need experienced and dependable hands at this site so do join us and do the following if you are interested to help out:

  1. Read the advise to Particpants on the ICCS Webpage.
  2. Fill in the registration form at tinyurl.com/iccs2014-tm7
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As this site is controlled by the police and access is restricted, we require you to provide us with your identification number and document type – we will erase this information on the day of the event. Please note only registered participants will be allowed to take part in the cleanup.

Thank you for your interest in protecting the environment and we hope to see you on the beach!

New restrictions to some State Land sites – Zone Captains will inform Organisers

Last year, five of my students and an ICCS Organiser were issued a “stern warning” for trespassing on state land at Tanah Merah – you can read about it here. These signs certainly caught us by surprised as ITE College West (School of Engineering) and Nanyang Girls’ Boarding School had worked at Tanah Merah 7 for ICCS 2013 the previous week without incident.

These new signs are different from all others which have previously marked State Land – they promise that “Trespassers will be arrested”. And indeed several people have been served notice since.

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In response to queries about the incident, Singapore Police Force (SPF), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) met to discuss a response. And thereafter, SLA offered to liase with SPF on behalf of ICCS for access to restricted State Land sites. We provided SLA a list of all sites at which our volunteers conduct coastal cleanups early this year and all was ready.

In the past couple of weeks, as we conducted recce trips, we put the mechanism to work. Informing SLA, they have relayed our requests to SPF who have granted us access each time. It has been a smooth process although it has put an end to spontaneous trips.

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New signs at Lim Chu Kang

Ground recces reveal just two more of our current sites are affected by the new signs in addition to Tanah Merah 7, namely Lim Chu Kang and Lim Chu Kang East – for now. For the upcoming international ICCS event in September, Zone Captains for these areas (Adriane Lee for North-West and Hannah Leong for Tanah Merah) will provide a Point of Contact to SPF via SLA and will have Organisers prepare a nominal list of volunteers complete with NRIC (or FIN) numbers.

Whatever the challenges SPF is facing along our coasts, this procedure ensures volunteer coastal cleanups along our shores are able to continue their fight against marine trash.

This Saturday, for the seventh year, I am organising a National Day mangrove cleanup at Lim Chu Kang. Permission has already been provided by SPF via SLA and I have nominal roll of volunteers against which we will take attendance – a quick exercise after which we return to the business of tackling marine trash, a loving gesture by a group of people in celebration of National Day.

Thanks to NEA, SPF and SLA for all the help!

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Photo by Sean Yap, 2013.

Congratulations to Nexia TS for their fine effort of removing of 4,500 marine trash items on Changi Beach!

Congratulations to Nexia TS who conducted a Year-Round Coastal Cleanup at Changi Beach on 11 Jul 2014, as part of their CSR day in conjunction with the NEA Seashore Life programme. This great initiative removed 4,500 items of trash from the heavily peppered coastline of Changi. We congratulate them for their fine effort on behalf of the environment!

‎www nexiats com sg uploads news 2014 2014 11 20CSR 20day 20 follow 20up pdf 1

They report:

“Over 4,500 pieces of trash, weighing more than 150 kg, were collected along a 3,300m shoreline of Changi Beach. The more common items found were cigarette butts and foam containers, consistent with the International Coastal Cleanup 2011 report which ranked these items first and second on their list.

Unique items like a car key and a shaver were also picked up during the cleanup process. The data collected on the trash will contribute to the Ocean Trash Index Report, in collaboration with the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, the volunteer arm of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at the National University of Singapore. It will be used to raise awareness, identify hotspots for debris or unusual trash events, and inform policy solutions.”

While we conduct ICCS in Sep-Oct, anyone can organise a year-round coastal cleanup at any time. This pdf explains how you can do this. .

Celebrate National Day with a mangrove cleanup @ Lim Chu Kang on Saturday, 9th August 2014!

Celebrate our National Day
with a mangrove cleanup
on Saturday, 9th August 2014!

Sign up here by Wed 6th Aug 2014 if you want to help!

The pre-national Day Coastal Cleanup 2011 cleared more than one tonne of trash!

The Mission:
Lim Chu Kang mangrove is a beautiful and unique patch of unprotected mangrove in Singapore, facing the Western Straits of Johor. It is adjacent to a Police Coast Guard base and offshore, kelongs and fish farms unload their produce at the jetty for delivery to markets in Singapore.

Scientists have worked in this mangrove for decades and though it is but a small patch that remains, it is scientifically interesting and holds many stories about animal and plant life and heritage in Singapore. In 2008, the Sungei Buloh Master Plan revealed it would link up with the Lim Chu Kang mangroves.

The famous mud lobster mounds of Lim Chu Kang mangrove

Trash from the Johor Straits is regularly deposited on Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove and since this is state land which is not used recreationally, this marine trash impact on marine life is battled through the efforts of various groups who conduct coastal cleanups throughout the year at this site.

A typical scene at Lim Chu Kang beach
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The removal of trash is tackled sensitively through the actions of small groups. To contribute to this exercise, I organise a pre-National Day cleanup annually in celebration of Singapore’s birthday and invite anyone who wants to help to come along.

In 2011 sixty-four of us removed more than a tonne of trash in 133 bags of trash in just over an hour! And in 2012, with just a week’s notice 40 of us cleared 669kg of marine trash in 83 trash bags. In 2013, 42 of us cleared 752kg in 75 trash bags and 36 bulky items out of the site.

All you have to do is sign up here by Wednesday 6th Aug 2014 to be part of a happy bunch!

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Itinerary:

  • 0730 – bus pick-up at Dover MRT and one bus-stop after Clementi MRT, along Commonwealth Avenue West Road
  • 0820 – reach LCK, distribute into sub-groups, apply insect repellent, collect gloves and trash bags.
  • 0840 – Safety briefing, identification of Trash Loading Point (TLP) and bus shelter, wet weather plan (carry on unless lightning threat)
  • 0850 – cleanup begins.
  • 1000 – Loading teams start moving trash out to TLP
  • 1030 – clean-up ends, weigh trash and discussion; Q&A
  • 1045 – participants clean up – note: no washing point, so bring small amount of water to wipe down.
  • 1100 – Bus returns to Clementi MRT then NUS

 

Pre-National Day mangrove cleanup_ Site and Pickup Points - Bus stop at Commonwealth Avenue West opposite block 317
The Clementi pick up point, one bus stop after Clementi MRT

Provided:

  1. Transport to site.
  2. Gloves.
  3. Trash bags.
  4. Weighing scales.

Be prepared!

  • Sleep early the night before and hydrate – this will affect your performance and enjoyment of the morning,
  • set your alarm to wake up on time – we can’t wait for latecomers (time and tide critical) and
  • have a decent breakfast – it will be a workout, last year 42 of us cleared >800kg of trash!

What you should bring:

  1. Covered shoes with hard soles – hard-soled booties are fine.
  2. Water bottle (at least one litre of water).
  3. Hat and/or sun block.
  4. Raincoat/ponco (we’ll carry on working in rain)
  5. Towel in a bag – to wipe off any sand and mud off you.
  6. Suggestion – dry fit clothes are suitable for this work. A change of a cotton t-shirt is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  7. Light pants will help protect your legs from insect bites as well as from the debris, but bermudas are fine.
  8. Water-proof your belongings.
  9. Some water to wipe yourself down with

Transport:

Registered participants who require transport can be picked up at these timings/locations (click for maps):

  1. 0730 – Bus stop at Dover MRT along Commonwealth Ave West (Bus stop no. 19031)
  2. 0735 – Bus Stop after Clementi Interchange (Bus stop no. 17181; note you must walk some 100m from Clementi MRT Station)

Note that the bus cannot wait at these locations so do come early.

Driving?
Meet us at Lim Chu Kang Road end (click link to see map) at 0820 where parking space is available.

The cleanup site at Lim Chu Kang mangrove

Happy National Day!

Happy travels to Sonya Besteiro, our Ocean Conservancy co-ordinator for International Coastal Cleanup these past 11 years

Coordinators of the International Coastal Cleanup worldwide were officially informed that Sonya Besteiro’s will be heading on to her next adventure! Her last day at Ocean Conservancy will be 18 Jul 2014 and Sarah Kollar takes over as the point of contact for international coordinators.

Sonya has been the heart behind the International Coastal Cleanup (and Trash Free Seas program) for 11 years now and has tirelessly forged bonds and partnerships amongst partners. We will miss her very much.

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