Added Value Saffron Hill Beach year-round cleanup @ ECP, 12 Aug 2011

Added Value Saffron Hill Beach Clean-up, 12 Aug 2011

Added Value Saffron Hill Beach Clean-up.pptx

Added Value Saffron Hill conducted their beach cleanup in August, about a month before the ICCS. They certainly look happy – congratulations to Florence Leong and friends!

Cleanups before and after the ICCS are called Year-Round cleanups and no data cards are used. We do that the types of trash are examined and impressions recorded, and the trash weighed and reported back to us and recorded on this blog. Suggestions about how groups can go about organising a cleanup of their own are listed at

Chek Jawa Warriors in ICCS!!

Pulau Ubin was unusually active on the morning of Saturday, 17 Sep 2011 – some cheery people were streaming in at considerable volume onto the sleepy island as early as 7.00am.

They were participants of the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, they were eager to get to work. With great anticipation, these ICCS participants gathered at the jetty and sorted themselves out.

Bumboat trip to Ubin

Participants gathering at Ubin Jetty

The ICCS volunteers tackling the trash at Chek Jawa this year were veterans Oscar & Friends (led by Oscar Ng Hwee Leng) and Sukyo Mahikari (led by Patrick Sng). It also included newer groups such as NPCC HQ (led by Neo Zhu Lin), Blacks Rugby Women’s Football club (led by Christabelle Lim Mee) and SAF Transport Hub East (led by Winnie Seaw Swee Yew).

They hit the shores and started work cheerily. Getting stuck in the mud did not dampen their spirits and all were in good humour.

Cleanup starts! SAF Participants hard at work

Extricating our 'victim'!

Finally, the collected and categorised trash was weighed and dragged out of the shore. Everyone was beaming from satisfaction! The haul of trash from all of Chek Jawa South was a total of 963 kg!

Trash collected on all of Pulau Ubin weighed almost 3,500 kg!!

Plastic bags, plastic beverage bottles and food wrappers/containers were the top three trash items found – 4,818 plastic bags, 3,753 plastic bottles and 2,465 food wrappers. Other ‘noteworthy’ trash include straws, disposable utensils and styrofoam pieces.

SAF Weighing Team having fun!

Undaunted Sukyo Warriors carrying their trash out!

Various groups did their debriefing with their hard-earned data ensuring that the participants gained an important awareness on how our daily lives impact the environment and how to reduce it.

NPCC HQ Debrief

Everyone was safe and sound and accomplished from the day’s efforts – see you again next year! 🙂

Reflections on a Saturday Morning (17th September 2011)

Deanna Lye signed up as an Independent Volunteer to participate in the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore. Allocated to Sungei Tampines, she reported to Zone Captain Ng Kai Scene and accompanied her back to NUS to wash gloves and help in data processing. We were heart-warmed by her enthusiasm and grateful for the help which she assures us is just the start of a beautiful friendship.

She writes of her experience:

Sat 17 Sep 2011 – “By 5.45am, I was out of bed, ready to jump in and get my hands dirty for the morning.

This I speak of is the International Coastal Cleanup Day which took place in Singapore, an annual volunteering feat involving numerous people from all walks of life; individuals from companies such as the Environment Resources Management, to independent volunteers of a multinational variety.

There was never a more exotic group of approximately 20 volunteers gathered at Sungei Tampines, Singapore. The eyes of many onlookers (runners and dog-walkers) were on us, who were peacefully waiting around at Area 2’s campsite of the Pasir Ris Park. They must have been impressed with our drive to come down all geared up on an early weekend morning!

Kai Scene, our Site Captain from the International Coastal Cleanup arrived at quarter past eight to meet us. After a light briefing, we kicked off our ‘operation cleanup’. Groups of four were efficiently formed after friendly introductions were exchanged. My group consisted of three other students from Tanglin Trust School. Despite no prior acquaintance, we rapidly established a good rapport.

Moving in our designated groups, we were led through a narrow route to the mangrove, a site elaborately ‘decorated’ with trash! Three of us got down to it, voicing out along the way the items we picked from the ground for Pam to note them down on a data sheet.

Below is my lovely team (I am back-facing the camera on the right):

The culprit claiming first place as ‘most viewed on site’ are straws! The shocking amount of 207 straws we picked proves one thing: party-goers at beaches should start taking the initiative in clearing up after themselves. It is your responsibility. Do remember that it only takes a short reckless amount of time to pollute a site home to a bio-diverse community. A used ghost net irresponsibly disposed on the shore causes death of many precious water-thriving animal species.

My environmental volunteer work gives me such satisfaction. All the sweat is worth it. This is my second involvement with the International Coastal Cleanup organisation, and I foresee several more fulfilling activities with them. I will be eagerly looking out for more opportunities to get involved, be it rain or shine.
Thank you for reading my post, and I hope that my enthusiasm will rub off on all you teenagers out there!

Eco warriors Unfazed by Gloomy Weather at Pandan Mangrove!

Dark, cloudy sky and a light drizzle did not deter 84 volunteers from springing into cleanup action at Pandan Mangrove!

This year’s warriors include veteran groups – Raffles Museum Toddycats, NUS Biodiversity Crew, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) plus two new organisations to the site – EARTHlink NTU and FMC Technologies.

As this remnant strip of mangrove in south-west Singapore is a fragile habitat, we sub-divided the site this year into 4 different sectors for the respective organisations to tackle, so as to minimise impact on the mangrove and to allow for a wider area to be combed.

Plastic bags, food containers and plastic beverage bottles made up the majority of items collected. Whilst there were much less illegally dumped trash like tyres and household appliances this time, we still found several large PVC plastic pipes, long wires and even abandoned mattresses and pillows!

Gorgeously muddy legs and booties! Photo by Amanda Tan.

Two young little heroes of the WRS team brought much joy and energy to the site with their enthusiasm and readiness to help in any way they could – certainly an inspiring sight.

Photo by Desmond Ling (WRS).

NUS and Raffles Museum group this year was small, but the 10 folks gave their all by treading deep into the mud to wipe out any trash in sight! Special thanks to Meryl Theng who offered to help as organiser for the group at the 11th hour and took everything in stride. New friendships were built and we certainly had a great workout!

NUS team – Top left: Amanda, Yi Jun, Meryl, Shiv, Wei Yu, Venus and Thiri.
Bottom left: Aloysius, Nasrul, Rini, Kelly. Photo by Amanda Tan.

A big thank you to all organisers who made this cleanup a success and we certainly look forward to your participation next year!

Photo by Desmond Ling (WRS).

Backing up NUS’ foray into Lim Chu Kang East mangrove

I have waited years to deploy a team to Lim Chu Kang East mangrove. It is a lovely strip, erm, east of Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove next to the old Cashin bungalow.

However, opening up a new mangrove site to the coastal cleanup is hard work. It requires several recces to ensure the site is safe for volunteers to work on, a site assessment to evaluate possible impact and how to minimise this and numbers of people to limit the cleanup to. Then it’s running the cleanup or finding capable organisers to ensure the cleanup is effectively well.

Well, then there is finding the time to do all of this.

The motivation to eliminate this plastic insult to the mangrove is obvious.

I had run the Pandan Mangrove site for the past three years and was sure South Zone Captain Kelly Ong would be ready to handle the site solo this year. So last year, I examined LCK East once again and set about identifying partners.

The NUS Environment Engineering students from ESESC have been handing coastal cleanup Organiser duties down from seniors to juniors since Tai Jo Fen got them started in 2003. This year’s trio of Vionna Luah, He Miao & Derek Ang attended the ICCS Workshop and were game for a challenge.

So we did the first recce in July with Jessica Ker, the deputy Zone Captain for North West zone and planning started thereafter.

We met again last week to sort out a few points. They had things in good shape. Still, I felt a few experienced hands would be useful and a buffer in case of emergency.

LCKeast Mangrove Crew
Site Buddy Yang Yi Yong with Organiser He Miao taking out a toilet bowl from amongst the construction debris, which I suspect came from the renovation of the Cashin bungalow toilet and kitchen.

New Site Buddy Yang Yi Yong was assigned to NUS in July. He had come for all the ICCS training and looked to be a good asset. But this was a tough site, I wanted even more backup. So I decided to recruit some mangrove angels.

Data Captain Airani S has been involved in ICCS since 2001 so knows all the operations well and even has experience with wet ops. Grace Leng is an outdoors-woman, my senior from campus and my TA during my honours year in Pulau Tioman.
Grace brought along two other young but savvy instructors from her company Creative Kids, Pamela Soo and Rachel Leng.

LCKeast mangrove crew
L-R: Pamela, Rachel, Grace and Jocelyne

Fresh grad Jessica Ker completed a mangrove research project with me in her third year and displayed enough mettle that I recruited her as my Deputy Zone Captain for North-West. She recce’d this site with me and was familiar with the area.

I bumped into former student Goh Wee Kee several days earlier and roped her in to the operation too – I still call her Conneraceae after her study subject in her honours year. She did need new booties but is field-savvy from her research days in NUS.

LCK East Clowns
L-R: Jessica, Michelle & Yi Yong

Meanwhile, Jocelyne, the ICCS intern was joining me to experience and examine operations for analysis later. I had also asked And Dinesh, the Recce Captain to video operations here this year; and he had been on the earlier recces with me.

So that meant, with Yi Yong and myself, the NUS students running the site had ten experienced hands in attendance.

I was their safety officer and Grace, a bonus on all counts, a field first aider and mum.

NUS Organisers
Organisers Derek and Vionna conferencing before the start of the cleanup

I spent the night fighting my flu and leaking like a faucet. I thought I might have to skip the cleanup but at 6am, I sprang up to get ready.

Once the cleanup began, my crew worked seamlessly. Grace had asked me at the start, “what are our roles?” And I responded with, “you’ll know”.

Best kind of briefing to be able to give. They all would know what to do when the time came. If there was an emergency, I know how to find them, having noted their colours.

The contingent was enthusiastic and spirits were high. It was a great way to work a site and we all chipped in various ways, wading in when others were hesitant, eliminating a supply deadlock, preventing unnecessary strain, introducing methods, helping with categorisation, working alongside with spirited teamwork, etc.

LCK Mangrove Crew 2
Top to bottom: Jessica, Jocelyne and Andy

After an hour, since I was not in the pink of health, I enforced a break to drink some really hot soup I had brought along to warm the chest and gulp some water to rehydrate. I had been perspiring so badly that my cap was dripping! Knowing when to stop is important – easier when you are older, I suppose.

A person with a suspected insect bite was brought to me and after I washed his face down, he was okay, thankfully. A student did break out in hives and I activated Grace who zipped him off to NUS Emergency in no time. I was completely relaxed about this because he was in good hands. Grace would later report that he was observed, injected and stabilised. I also inspected one foot of a nonchalant lady and she was right, the reported cut in her foot was superficial and not deep.

LCK East mangrove - ChaingangThe chain-gang moves 1.8 tonnes of trash out to the Trash Disposal Point to await pickup by an NEA contractor later

Airani was organising the chain gang by that time. This requires a little forcefulness to initiate since some will feel solo runs are more efficient – it just feels that way. We realised over a decade ago that a chain gang makes light work of the work load, so I was glad that she rallied the crowd to work together. That eased things considerably.

The wheelbarrows I had demanded we purchase were handy. I just have to send them to Sungei Buloh now since we’ll have no use or space for them until ICCS2012!

LCK East
The NUS students started working on collecting, counting and categorising trash immediately

The NUS students were great to work with, their Organisers had done their homework and were able to tap on my experience very quickly. Volunteers were great. My part was to ensure that they had backup with redundancy, in case anything went wrong at this remote site.

The hives victim joined us at LS Lab 7 later where we processed the data. He munched on the pizza and looked much better!

My crew who came all had fun, it was written all over their faces! Everyone loves working with motivated individuals.

I am glad we had a safe and efficient cleanup which left Lim Chu Kang East in a much better condition. The almost two tonnes we took out included more than 2,300 plastic bags and food wrappers and will ease the burden on that site. Having waited years, it was lovely to be purged of this anathema.

It’s just the beginning though, and this will be the first of several years the historical load is eliminated, leaving only the annual recruitment. But obviously we now have the means and the will to take on this challenge!

LCKeast All

Uncovering the mangroves at the inaugural Lim Chu Kang East cleanup

130 volunteers woke up bright and early on the morning of Saturday 17 September 2011 with one goal in mind – to rid the Lim Chu Kang East mangrove of trash.

A few thousand others would be doing the same in locations around the island, for the 3rd Saturday in September, date of the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, was finally here!

I knew we were visiting a completely new site, and was told there was a “historical load of trash” to clear. But I didn’t know what to expect, just that nine of us had been roped in specially by ICCS Coordinator N. Sivasothi and were all there early by 8am to meet Organsers Vionna Luah, He Miao and Derek Ang.

Half-hour later, three bus loads of NUS staff and students led by the Environmental Science &  Engineering Club students arrived. Organised into their working groups, they collected their materials and applied insect repellent while Siva chatted with the SPH reporter from Lianhe Zaobao.


Siva providing the background to the site and a final safety reminder


After the welcome and briefing, we set out for the site itself, full of anticipation and energy.

And we were SHOCKED by what we saw – a complete cover of trash greeted us! Colourful plastics carpeted the stream, so it was completely hidden. A horrendous sight indeed!

Trash-covered mangrove

Trash-covered mangrove

We got to work with no hesitation and the trash bags filled up almost at once. Initially volunteers crowded the entry point so we herded them towards the inner reaches of the hidden stream to tackle the increasingly heavy trashload. It was literally heavy with oil drums, a tv set, a toilet cistern and a sink littered there! A load of of ceramic tiles on the banks, must have been illegally dumped there as well.

The NUS volunteers worked intently for almost two hours in the mangrove, while some took turns to move filled trash bags out to the weighing station. Slowly, the mangroves were uncovered.

I was very excited to unveil the mangrove and got pretty high from it, perhaps from the noxious hydrogen sulphide fumes! The greatest fun I had came from rolling out two oil drums with Jesicca’s help (:

Eventually we were called to halt the cleanup and came out with some very reluctant volunteers who wanted to continue. But it was now time to weigh all the trash collected and to form a human chain to move it to the roadside. Bulky items aside, we collected 181 bags of trash weighing 1887 kg!

While waiting for the data to be collated (the most important part of the job!), we took some time to pose with the pile of trash!

Eventually, we made it back to NUS to wash gloves and to do data processing

It was good fun cleaning up our precious mangroves. The best thing about it is was volunteers unfamiliar with the area realising that most of this trash was single use plastics from a consumer culture that needs to dispose of waste more carefully and better still, reduce waste production in the first place.

For more on the inaugural Lim Chu Kang East mangrove cleanup, do check out: Andy Dinesh’s blogpost

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore 2011 data so far

ICCS 2011: Data from Sep 2011, so far

Total Number of Volunteers 2,397
Total number of trash bags filled 1,518
Total weight of trash collected (kg) 12,055
Total distance cleaned (metres) 13,353
Total item count (to-date): 184,114

Top 6 items

Styrofoam pieces 97,211
Bags (plastic) 21,539
Beverage bottles (plastic) >= 2 liters 11,956
Food wrappers / Containers 10,386
Cigarettes / Cigarette Filters 7,435
Straws, stirrers 5,696


Which shores are we at for the coastal cleanup?

Some 70 groups are distributed around the island on a similar number of sites around the island in six zones. The ICCS Status Sheet at reflects the various groups.

Tomorrow we will update this sheet to indicate data submission, verification and publication.

Thanks to NEA and NParks for 20 years of support for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

On our shores tomorrow, more than 4,000 volunteers from 70 groups and organisations will count, categorise and remove trash safely and efficiently on the accessible shoreline of Singapore.

Part of an annual worldwide effort, the International Coastal Cleanup takes place in 70-100 countries around the world and is Singapore’s largest and oldest environmental action programme. This is the 20th anniversary of the effort locally to raise environmental awareness about sustainability, pollution and the marine life in Singapore.

Last year more than 3,500 volunteers cleared more than 174,00 items in some 2,000 trash bags weighing almost 14 tonnes in just one morning! Importantly, they took home with them an awareness about local and global issues about marine pollution and ideas about contributing to solve this. The data is publicly accessible at:

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore: Zones & Sites - Google Maps

ICCS has been coordinated by volunteers from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at the National University of Singapore for over a decade and through this all, we have been assisted by various officers on the ground in the National Parks Board and the National Environment Agency. We acknowledge their efforts here for their support has made ICCS so seamless that it is conducted quietly and efficiently every year without fanfare.

In this effort, our spirits must not fade as this requires a long-term, relentless effort. Amongst the 50-70 volunteer organisations who participate annually are passionate people and groups who have sustained their efforts and educated volunteers for a long time.

We will acknowledge them in a simple way during the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium III (24 Sep 2011) which NUS is co-organising with NParks and they are:

  • Raffles Girls Secondary School, Singapore American Middle & High Schools (20 years)
  • Woodlands Ring Sec, NYP Geocouncil, Waterways Watch Society (11 years
  • NUS Environmental Engineering, Oscar & Friends, Hai Sing Catholic School & NTU Earthlink (7-9 years).

We hope others take heart from their example.

The Guest of Honour for the symposium is Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, BG (Res) Tan Chuan Jin, who wrote in June,

“When we begin to care for different aspects in society, we will begin to grow as a people. What distinguishes us as humans is our capacity to love, care and respect. Which is why such avenues, be it with animals, our environment, and indeed with fellow humans…caring for the less privileged in society, respecting elders and being there for them in their twilight years…the spirit of volunteerism and to be involved… are critical in the building of our nation, and the forging of our heart and soul.”

The volunteer coordinating team of the ICCS conveys our thanks to NParks and NEA for their officers on the ground, who have assisted and supported our efforts all these years. They have made us feel encouraged, helped sustain our efforts, and worked with us towards common goals for betterment of society.

– From an email by ICCS Coordinator N. Sivasothi to NParks’ CEO Poon Hong Yuen & COO Leong Chee Chiew; NEA’s CEO Andrew Tan & DG Environmental Health Division Khoo Seow Poh.

Seeing the light of day – plastic bottles light up zinc-roofed homes in the Philippines

This is happening in Philippines and social entrepreneur Illac Diaz hope to brings this to other developing countries.

Thanks to Ng Bee Choo for the link.

See also “Illac Diaz: the Making of a Global Leader,”, 19 Mar 2008.