Dewi tells a long story – “ICC-Bintan (Lagoi)!”

It’s ICC-Bintan day today!!!

A small group of us from Singapore (Siva, Airani, Huaqin and I) left for Bintan Island, Indonesia last night at about 8 p.m. I took a cab from Clementi and then picked Airani (who just knocked off from work!!) and Huaqin and then we went to Holland Village to get our boss, Siva!

During the ride to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) chatting about so many issues, we had to stop when we realised the taxi uncle wanted to listen to the TOTO or 4D results over the radio.. :p


There, I discovered I was supposed to be the Expedition Leader – maybe because I am the only Indonesian amongst the four of us! [No, Dewi, its because all of this was your doing, from proposal to the earlier recce and briefing in Bintan; we are merely your followers! – Siva]. Sadly this Expedition Leader did not even print out the complimentary ticket sheet generously provided by Mr. Ranan Samanya, our contact person in Bintan, who is also the overall coordinator for ICC-Bintan. [Luckily Airani jubilantly announced she had it!]

We reached Bintan at about 8 pm. (Yes, I did not make a mistake here :p the time difference between Bintan and Singapore is 1 hour). Mr Ranan met us at the ferry terminal and then drove us for dinner at Pasar Oleh-Oleh or the Souvenir Market after Airani’s enthusiastic suggestion that we eat first! There, we had a feast! We had satay, crabs, otak-otak and a lot more good food! Thanks a lot for the treat, Mr. Ranan! :p

After a good dinner, we headed to Bintan Lodge for the night. It was a big serviced apartment which was nice and spacious. And more important, it was also generously provided for us by PT. Bintan Resort Cakrawala! :p

Most of us had a good sleep. We woke up at about 630 a.m. (local time) and was rather disappointed with the very heavy rain that had started at about 6 a.m. It continued to rain till about 7.20am when Mr. Ranan fetched us from our place of stay to Pasir Panjang, the cleanup site.


Pasir Panjang is also a site for turtle landings. There has been a lot of turtle eggs found along that stretch of beach. One staff, (I think his name was Muradu) said that he once collected 128 eggs from just one turtle nest for the hatchery project! Villagers had also been collecting eggs for consumption, however, gradually, it is hoped that with education and patrols, this will stop. As part of the turtle conservation program, the eggs will be collected and then placed in the turtle hatchery at Nirwana Gardens. After the eggs hatch, the little turtles are released!

On our way to the cleanup site, Mr. Ranan nearly made a wrong turn; we we looked back, we realised there were about 5 cars and a bus following us! These were the other participants driving from the BRC staff housing to the cleanup site.

And so…it the midst of the drizzle, all of us, participants of ICC-Bintan braced the rain and headed towards the site. The trash load was rather heavy. It was very obvious that plastic bottles and Styrofoam chunks and bits were all over the place!


Mr. Ranan did a short briefing about the cleanup. At first, I thought I would have to conduct some kind of briefing for the participants (like I do in Singapore and so I brought my briefing materials). Gladly, however, I did not need to! We were introduced to the participants as “team from Singapore”! Hoho… :p In this sire, three teams were formed from the 63 participants from Bintan Resort Cakerawala (BRC) and the four of us. Technically, each team was supposed to take care of a stretch of approximately 50m. Next came the distribution of gloves, data cards and gunny sacks and some trash bags. The cleanup started at about 8.20 am.

The four of us from ICC Singapore started immediately right where we were – there was so much trash that we realised we would not be moving very far! We then worked on an area approximately 5 x 10 metres and the first that struck us was the number of slippers and shoes that we found! These were just numerous! They came in various sizes, for adults as well as children. Airani even found some pairs! I thought that it might indeed be good if these can be reused! Haha.. :p

The other common trash items were plastic bottles, Styrofoam bits (and chunks), glass bottles, ropes, nets, lighters and rubber sheets. In order to cope with the heavy load, we put the same kind of trash in heaps and counted them as we bagged them later. The Indonesians nearby overlapped our area and we worked together bagging, counting as well as recording.

We kept up the work and kept gathering the trash in piles. When we finally looked up from our work, the shoreline was cleaner, and a heap of bags had been arranged on the beach!


Airani took a look at those bags piling up and suggested we start the weighing process – earlier, the Indonesians had climbed up a tree to suspend a weighing scale! An efficient weighing team was in place so we left them to it and helped the few who were transferring the weighed trash to the trash collection point (TCP). Unfortunately, this involved climbing a steep slope and moving the trash proved to be tiring and difficult!



We kept forming a human chain whenever we could and we joined the Indonesians in pouring out the contents of the bags and sacks into specific piles at the TCP. The empty bags were sent back out to the beach where they were sorely needed. A lorry was coming later to pick this all up for the landfill.

The participants were hardworking and excited. Working in the midst of a drizzle, they worked enthusiastically to collect, bag, count and record the trash. Kudos to them! Their spirit was really encouraging and that somehow helped to keep the four of us, who were exhausted, going!

Weighed, bagged trash started arriving by boats form other sites. Time for another human chain! From the shore to the weighing station, we tossed the lighter bags and carried the heavy bags and the human chain mae it manageable! With more bags weighed, Airani, Siva and Huaqin formed another human chain and Siva started tossing the lighter bags with plastic bottles or styrofoam “up-in-the-air” at Hua Qin further up the slope! :p



More trash came in by boats. Work, work,work! We heard later that the plastic bottles would be sent to a recycling plant in Bintan. How cool is that!!!

By about 9.20 a.m. some participants from distant sites started making their way back to us. Most of them were really tired. Some of the volunteers are even fasting! I really salute their high spirits and strong determination. Well done!



The cleanup was also conducted at other resorts. In total, more than one hundred people were involved. It was indeed encouraging to see such a good response from the people, especially the management team.

During the cleanup, we met Irene, a Singaporean working as the business development manager in Bintan. She was interested in incorporating the cleanup with educational activities for students and she and Siva had a very good talk right at the end of the cleanup.

The cleanup ended after about 90-100 minutes, with majority of the bagged trash removed by boats or collected at the TCP. The logistics crew stayed behind to account for the walkie-talkies, clipboards etc and the bags/sacks and data cards.

In Mr Ranan’s car, the rest of them joked about how pink I was and the pink, Japanese-looking hat was such a disappointing image for an Expedition Leader! Shrugs… what can I say? Pink is such a lovely color! How can they not appreciate how pretty pink is!!! *complain complain*


Yupz…so…after washing up, we had lunch. Then Mr. Ranan brought us to Wisma where we met Albel Singh, the General Manager of BRC. To our pleasant surprise, we were each given Bintan Resort caps as souvenirs! :p We were told by Mr. Ranan that the management was enthusiastic about sponsoring the event next year and hoped to involve the whole island, especially the local people. Yay!

Before leaving, we dropped in for a quick shopping trip at the Bandung Factory Outlet while Siva and Mr Ranan discussed the education programme in Bahasa that should accompany next year’s cleanup. Then we off on our 2.30 pm ferry looking through the photos taken, receiving Mr Ranan’s about the data and after some time, everyone went silent…zzzzzzz!

And yeah! Here we come back to Singapore!! It was pouring lor… :p

Initially, I had hoped we could have recruited more participants from Singapore. Busy with a seemingly hopeless final year project…still, I should not be giving excuses… [You also just completed your ICCS Site Captain duties and the t-shirt project, so I’ll readily agree you were busy]. However, Siva might be right – keeping the group small for the first time out might prove to be a good option. After knowing more about the site and operations, we can better plan for next year. Then we can publicise!

I personally feel that the cleanup was really a success. The coordination was excellent and the participants were really good! The use of gunny sacks was really useful since trash bags would not be able to handle glass and the heavy load. The reuse of the gunny sacks (when we ran out) and the reuse for next year’s cleanup was really brilliant! This cleanup was more tiring than any I have done before, and thus was more fruitful and satisfying!


Thanks to BRC for sponsoring the trip! We really had a great time, away from the busy lifestyle here in Singapore. Truly, the city can wait!! =)

We said Dewi, being an engineer, could not write a long story. Well, she obviously proved us wrong! – Siva

Links to photo albums.

Photos from the inaugural ICC Bintan, Indonesia

Four of us from ICC Singapore joined staff of PT. Bintan Resort Cakrawala for the inaugural International Coastal Cleanup at Pulau Bintan, Indonesia.

The area we tackled is off the tourist route but an important turtle landing site at Pasir Panjang, along the north coast of Bintan Island. We had an invigorating morning and the thunderous rain held off long enough for us to tackle the beach and remove thousands of plastic bottles, more shoes and slippers than we ever saw before in our lives and much larger pieces of styrofoam than we are used to!

There was some serious hauling of trash up a small slope and the piles of major categories of trash was something we had been unable to do in Singapore. Now we’ll be able to use those photos to good effect during slide talks in future.

See Ranan Samanya’s album.

A long beach to cleanup!

P1040148Main categories of trash?
Plastic (PET) bottles, styrofoam and shoes, sandals and slippers!

Weighing Station

The cheerful chain-gang

Photos by Ranan Samnya.
See also Hua Qin’s photos, Dewi’s photos and her “long story.”

Four of us to join the inaugural ICC Bintan, Republik Indonesia

Four of us from central coordinating team in Singapore (the ICCS Otters) are heading out to Pulau Bintan tomorrow: Dewi Anggraini (Site Captain, Lim Chu Kang), Ng Hua Chin (Deputy Coordinator), Airani S (Data Advisor) and N. Sivasothi (Coordinator).

Ranan Samanya of Bintan Resorts and coordinator of ICC Bintan, emailed us the preparation list:

“We’ll start the evening with dinner, then chit-chat under the stars.

For your participation, please bring the following personal belongings (LOL! But this is our standard info to volunteers, hehe):

  1. Personal equipment / Perlengkapan pribadi
    • Beach wear / Baju santai/pantai
    • Hat / Topi
    • Sports shoes / Sepatu olah raga
    • Swim suit / Baju renang
    • Change / Baju ganti
    • Raincoat / Jas hujan
    • Drinking water bottle / Botol air minum
    • Backpack / Ransel
  2. Rendezvous / Waktu berkumpul: Kamis, 27 September 2007, jam 07:15
  3. We provide semi heavy duty gloves, sandfly and mosquito repellents and drinking water refill.

So now I know the Indoneesian words for the packing list! The four of us are looking forward to being participants in the inaugural ICC Bintan. To be honest, without coordination woes, it’s a really a holiday!

Site Buddy Participation for ICCS on 29 September 2007

Hi all,

Missed out on a chance to help in ICCS as a site buddy?
Want to do it again?
Here’s another chance to do it!

We are looking for site buddies for 2 companies at Lim Chu Kang and Changi Beach.

Do contact me for more details!


ICC Bangladesh in its 3rd year!

“Choking coastlines,” by Nader Rahman. The Star Weekend Magazine, 6(37), 21 Sep 2007 [see the cover].

“Three years ago it was Muntasir Mamun of this organisation who brought the topic of coastal cleaning closer to the public by arranging Bangladesh’s first participation in the International Coastal Cleanup. He is currently Country Coordinator Bangladesh, for the ICC.

“The idea of a coastal clean up did not come to me over night”, he says. “I actually went to a mountain conservation meet in Japan in 2005, there they first told me of the ICC. I was told to get in touch with The Ocean Conservancy in Washington if I wished to start the project in Bangladesh. The 2005 ICC was soon after my trip, so just a handful of us took part by cleaning as much of Cox’s Bazar as we could.

…Mamun simply took a step in the right direction, and tried to link it to the collective consciousness of the nation.

“In January 2006, I contacted the Ocean Conservancy and filled out their documents”, says Mamum. “They soon sent me a parcel weighing 45 kg full of documents! It was unexpected to say the least. The package contained explanatory posters, brochures, data cards and certificates. But to receive the parcel I had to pay USD 400 out of my own pocket to customs”, he says.”

Funny story that one!

Their organiser had to worry about the tsunami the night before it seems, so kudos to him to having to cope with all that!

“On the appointed day , hundreds of local peoples , school kids joined together at Labonee Beach (Cox’s Bazar) , we are not professional but we have got little experience last year and before. Spilt the crowed in groups and deployed over the shore. Day long program took a break during noon as Friday mid day prayer is holly for us.

We have started sorting the debris after the break. Alas it was quite huge! Thousands of [polythene bags]! Millions of cigarette butts! We are still counting and waiting for all data cards!”

See also “The clean picture,” by Faizul Khan Tanim. New Age, 21 Sep 2007.

“This campaign is more like an awareness program and we want to make sure that the tourists bringing in products, should not dump or litter those product containers here before leaving. We want to make this project big by extending it throughout the coastline and reach up to St. Martins and any other water body. We also want to present the government with collected information and important data regarding the amount of waste, for further study’, said Muntasir.

It was seen that although the bigger waste particles were cleaned and removed, many small wastages still remained on the beach, littered across the coastal area. While asked about those smaller waste items like … nutshells or chewing gum wrappers, both Muntasir Mamun and Hedaitul Helal said they were only wiping those wastes which do not decompose.

Organic wastes like nutshells do not pose threat to the habitat. It is true that the smaller particles do make the beach look dirty but they also need heavy machine suckers or powerful vacuum cleaners to suck in small wastes, and those are very expensive.

Almost all the members associated with cleanup echoed the same notion that their motivation to do such voluntary work came mainly from a sense of social responsibility and working for beautification projects across the country.” “Plastic bags are killing us”

This year we picked up more than 14,000 bags on the shores!
“Plastic bags are killing us,” by Katharine Mieszkowski., 10 Aug 2007. The most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, the lowly plastic bag is an environmental scourge like none other, sapping the life out of our oceans and thwarting our attempts to recycle it.

“The plastic bag is an icon of convenience culture, by some estimates the single most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, numbering in the trillions. They’re made from petroleum or natural gas with all the attendant environmental impacts of harvesting fossil fuels. One recent study found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin. Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they’ve been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It’s equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.”

Read the complete article at

In Singapore, see also:

“Ocean Conservancy and Dedicated Volunteers Hold Successful International Coastal Cleanup for 22nd Consecutive Year”

Generous volunteers from around the world clean up waterways and shorelines; our responsibility for a clean ocean continues year-round

Washington, DC, 17 Sep 2007 — Ocean Conservancy declares the 22nd annual International Coastal Cleanup held on Saturday, September 15th a tremendous success.

Ocean Conservancy extends an immense thank you to all of the enthusiastic volunteers and coordinators who have made the ocean, waterways, and lakes cleaner and safer for people and wildlife. Volunteers can be proud to have played a critical role in the world’s largest single-day volunteer effort to improve the health of the ocean and its wildlife.

In addition to cleaning up waterways and beaches, volunteers collected important data on the types, quantity and location of marine debris that will lead to an ongoing effort to prevent marine debris through education and outreach all year.

“Our volunteers are the heart and soul of this amazing clean-up effort and we are grateful to them for their year-round dedication to help heal our oceans,” said Laura Capps, Senior Vice President with Ocean Conservancy. “The next official Ocean Conservancy cleanup may be a year away, but the responsibility to be better stewards of our environment is something we share everyday. We’re all connected to the ocean and the decisions we make even miles away from the shore have a real impact on the health of our ocean and on our planet.”

The data collected on Saturday’s cleanup including the number of volunteers, pounds of trash collected, miles cleaned and a breakdown of what was found will be available in early 2008. Thank you again to all volunteers for the generous support and dedication for the 2007 International Coastal Cleanup.

Read about the brief history of the cleanup – Singapore’s cleanup is in its 16th year.

Results for Singapore are available here.

The cleanup goes on!

70 scouts from Tampines District Scouts tackled 1.25km of Pasir Ris Beach this morning. They had a much sunnier day at the beach!

The main source of debris was cigarettes and lighters. In fact Nicholas Koh reports, “Recreation is most likely the main source of pollution, and as a result of social activities, smokers will throw their cigarettes and smoking-related litter into the sea.”

Photos on Flickr.

2007 Tampines District ICCS 2007 037.jpg

2007 Tampines District ICCS 2007 027.jpg

2007 Tampines District ICCS 2007 035.jpg

“Stepping forward – into the trash,” by Shobana Kesava.

“Stepping forward – into the trash,” by Shobana Kesava. The Straits Times Blogs, 20 Sep 2007.Shobana Kesava tells of those who pick up trash voluntarily and not on a CWO.

OVER 2,500 people descending on Singapore shores in one day, not to enjoy the sun, sand and sea but to pull out other people’s rubbish sounds like a bad release of piled-up littering corrective work orders.

But no one was being forced to do it on Sep 20 this year.

And, the thousands doing the collecting weren’t just collecting rubbish but data which will be sent this week to the Washington-based Ocean Conservancy which organises the annual international coastal clean-up.

The Non-Governmental Organisation wants to understand what makes up the world’s shoreline litter to help change behaviours.

Singapore residents have been at it the last 17 years: Collecting other people’s trash as a voluntary activity. They feel part of a good cause – understanding what exactly constitutes Singapore’s trash on the shores.

What a dedicated bunch.

They get knee-deep in mangroves, pull out an old drink can, note it on a datasheet as a food container and carry it back to civilisation in full trash bags.

The input goes online to the International Coastal Clean-up Singapore.

One group quite happy to get dirty in the name of cleaning up is The Raffles Museum ToddyCats. The group of 10 volunteers with the National University of Singapore all have full time jobs but still make time for their mission of coordinating the annual trash assessment.

Their website is a passive advertisement for those willing to organise themselves into groups and take part on Sep 20 every year.

Students, corporate citizens, civil servants and altruistic adults: Step forward.

Their motives for taking part may be varied but their committment to cleaning up is the same.

Some volunteers want to chalk up points for their community involvement programmes in school. Others hope to get the next generation of Singaporeans to avoid becoming another trash-producing generation. These days, some even say they want to offset their company’s carbon footprint.

This week, the results of their efforts will join the global data from other clean-ups around the world.

It seems wherever you are in the world rubbish is a pretty universal object.
Styrofoam, (really Dow Chemical’s trademarked name for polystyrene), plastic bags and cigarette butts always turn up. So do heavy items like truck tyres which are hauled up, rolled out one at a time and stacked up for disposal company Sembenviro to carry away.

Even dumped refrigerators and toilet cisterns possibly washed up from foreign shores and ships are carted out of mangroves.

Trash collected here and elsewhere is on the rise with eight pieces of trash picked up per metre of shoreline, compared to just three pieces, five years ago.

Blame it on enduring consumerism and poor disposal habits, but volunteers are undeterred and hope to make even the most incorrigible get the message:

– Garbage destroys wildlife which share the planet with us.

– It entangles or suffocates marine life. It fills their gut making them die a slow death from malnutrition.

And, if altruism doesn’t work there are other resons: It damages ecosystsems that provide food resources, traps fresh rainwater great for dengue-breeding and destroys our tranquil escape to sun, sand and sparkling sea.

For many who take on the task, it’s done in the hope that education and not punishments like corrective work orders will encourage other Singaporeans to quit littering.

ICCS2007 in the Straits Times again today

Shobana Kesava’s second story, “The coast is not clear: tyre and table among trash found” is out in the Straits Times today (her first story appeared in The Sunday Times, a day after the cleanup).

Check ST Online if you have a subscription or buy the paper. Its quite a nice spread across the middle of the page with stalwarts Singapore American School hard at work in Kranj mangroves.

“The coast is not clear: tyre and table among trash found,” by Shobana Kesava
The Straits Times, 20 Sep 2007

IT TOOK six men to hoist the unwieldy plastic road barrier out of the muddy mangroves, another three to weigh it and one more to record their find. Jotting down the figure, teacher-volunteer Steve Early said: ‘This one weighs in at 19kg.’

Hauled out in the next 10 minutes were a 46kg tyre and a wooden table that could seat eight which needed dismantling before it could be weighed. They were duly recorded under ‘dumping activities’ on the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore’s (ICCS) data card of human-made debris, trash and litter.

The 150 teacher and student volunteers from the Singapore American School were at the Kranji mangroves cleaning up a short 400-metre stretch of shoreline over the weekend. They were part of a larger group of 2,856 volunteers who covered about 15km of Singapore’s coast.

Said first-time volunteer Shazwani Mustaffa, 16, of St Andrew’s Junior College: ‘It’s very dirty. I don’t know how all this ends up here. ‘I found plastic, styrofoam, glass bottles and mattresses.’

The National Environment Agency’s Environmental Health Department head of operations, Mr Tai Ji Choong, said flotsam which comes in with the tide is particularly bad during the south-west monsoon from May to October. ‘We had our cleaners throw away a toilet bowl washed ashore,’ he added.

On beaches across Singapore where the public has access, the NEA has about 40 cleaners removing rubbish before most beach-goers arrive. On the popular 11-km stretch of East Coast Park, about 15 of them sweep, pick up and toss out trash on any given day, starting from 7am.

The volunteers took over their job on Saturday and collected 16,819 items weighing 2,600kg at East Coast Park alone – the highest amount of trash collected on any beach open to the public.

In an indication that beach-goers were making a significant impact, cigarette butts made it to the list of top three items collected on all beaches open to the public.

Canadian Sandra Johnson, in her 30s, who takes weekend walks along East Coast Park, said: ‘I find the most trash near barbecue pits, close to rubbish bins. ‘Guests from overseas often comment on how clean Singapore is. If they saw the East Coast Park on a weekend morning, I don’t think they’d feel the same way.’

“Big pile of litter”
The Straits Times, 20 Sep 2007

ONLY those who visit the beaches at daybreak know its dirty secret. Singapore’s sandy shores are covered in litter, while garbage bins nearby remain half-empty.

Cleaners took a break on Saturday for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore held annually on the third weekend of September.

This is the trash that never came close to the bins:
Styrofoam pieces – 27,460 (24.8%)
Bags – 14,470 (13.07%)
Cigarettes / cigarette filters – 11,613 (10.49%)
Food wrappers / containers – 11,504 (10.39%)
Straws, stirrers – 11,051 (9.98%)
Beverage bottles (plastic) 2 litres or less – 4,495 (4.06%)
Plastic sheeting / tarps – 4,431 (4.0%)
Caps, lids – 3,817 (3.45%)
Cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons – 3,394 (3.07%)
Glass beverage bottles – 2,002 (1.81%)