50 participants from Northland Primary School, Bioprocessing Technology Institute and Oil Spill Response arrived at Changi Beach Site 1, bright and early on Saturday, 19th September 2009. Rainclouds had started gathering but the gloomy sky did not dampen spirits as volunteers merrily chattered. And a short briefing got the merry crew ready for a “spring cleaning”!
As we began, a family of four at the beach observed us and decided to join in! They were kitted out with extra gloves from Oil Spill Response and a data card and that lowered the youngest age of our group to only three and a half years old!
Andrew Tay, a veteran Site Buddy with the ICCS came once more to guide Northland Primary in their cleanup. As they worked on Changi beach, he filled them in on the status of marine trash in Singapore and how it affects the marine environment and marine life. The students were asking questions throughout and enjoyed Andrew’s stories!
Even though everyone was enjoying themselves from the fulfilling work, it began drizzling an hour into the cleanup and most then headed for the shelter and totalling up of numbers began.
Although the cleanup stopped short of the usual 90 mins due to rain, a considerable amount of trash was collected. The weight came up to 68 kg of trash and the most common items were cigarette butts and styrofoam pieces. We found a few odd things too – a tattered and thin mattress, some golf balls and a few table tennis balls.
Many participants felt that this had been an eye-opening experience. They were taken aback about the amount of trash they had encountered on a seemingly clean beach!
The trash that lies out there is innumerable and it is an impossible task to eliminate it all with a single cleanup. This exercise was primarily a data-gathering exercise and the effort was an important one in understanding the source of the problem.
There was also that sense of satisfaction when leaving Changi Beach that their efforts had Changi Beach a better place for our marine creatures to live in.