Auntie Oscar’s Toolkit for Chek Jawa Coastal Cleanups – perfected over a decade of TLC

Auntie Oscar speaks:

“Every year I look forward to raiding the mangrove with my team of volunteers during the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore and over the years, we realized that a pair of scissors is just not enough! Gradually over the years we have a good collection of tools for our team.

Below is a glimpse of “barangs” which I have learnt to bring to my field site over the past decade of Organising volunteers for the ICCS, and I hope this helps you prepare your team with adequate tools for a cleanup. Clean and maintain the tools and they will last you during repeated visits over the years.”

Sturdy bags – One for dry items and another for wet & dirty items. Large opening means you can find and store things easily in an emergency.

Clip Board & Writing Material  – Clip board is handy for data recording. Always bring spare pen and go for the cheap ball point without caps instead of those ink type with caps that you can easily lose in the environment. Have a spare felt tip marker for labeling items, just in case. A plastic folder is useful to protect your data in a rainy weather.

Personal Bag – A change of clothes in case you get really dirty, sun hat, towel, water bottle filled up – no point buying mineral water and add on to more trash, insect repellent, sun block, candies for energy and loose change for the bum boat and van ride to Chek Jawa. The calculator is for the group final check, you can use your mobile phone (if your hands are clean).

Tarp Sheet – I carry this for volunteers to leave their bags on a clean base instead of allowing the volunteers to carry their back pack when they are working (not safe and not convenient). The tarp is also useful for emergency as a stretcher if anyone gets hurt, it can also be use as a temporary shelter if a sudden storm comes in.

Cotton-Latex Gloves – Ah my famous orange hands. I have been using these gloves for past 8 years and after a good washing and store properly, they still look as new! My team avoids industrial welding gloves because of their poor fitting. The cotton part is breathable even when it is wet; the latex part is still safe enough for us to pick up cut glasses.

Weighing Tools – I always bring extra to ensure the weigh is accurate and use the largest scale for trash such as thick marine ropes.

Hooks – Come in handy for holding up water bottles or bags off the ground, and can be used with the weighing scale as an extension.

Scissors and Cutters -I usually ask volunteers to bring their own scissors or cutters, they are useful for cutting off fishing lines and plastic bags that are caught on the mangroves. I also carry a plant trimmer (yellow) for thicker ropes. They must be promptly clean and oil with WD40 after use so that they can be reused.

Long Tongs – Useful for volunteers with bad back and for reaching that rubbish that is stuck between hard to reach places. The mini shovel is use to dig up edge of buried item.

Foldable Shovel –Extremely useful for a quick digging in muddy site and also used for leveraging hard or rusty trash that is stuck in mud.

The pick edge is also use for prying up rocks and other debris. Safe for sorting trash too.

Hand Saw -Used for trimming plastic drums and larger items that is half buried in the mud.

Measuring Tape – This optional tool helps us to measure size of peculiar trash or dead marine life.

Trash Bags – There are different grades of trash bags, the best are good quality black industrial ones. I will carry about 20 units. Usually I will ask volunteers to bring 2 standard super market bags for their walk around collection and dump it at our sorting and counting site before we weigh them collectively. The green recycle bag is too thin for use so please avoid them.

First Aid Kit – It is essential for a team leader to bring this for the team. Volunteers are asked to bring their own plasters in case they have small cuts. My first aid kit has gloves, elastic and triangle bandages, Opsite spray , antiseptic cream, tweezers for splints and micropore tape.

Storage Box – In order to keep your group tools and materials in order, do pack them neatly into a carton box and label it so that you can get ready for the next ICCS!

Footwear – It is essential to have the right footwear not only for your own safety but also not to create more trash!

The 4 pairs on the left are GOOD choices as they cover the toes, hang on to your feet tightly and can be washed after the cleanup.

The 4 pairs on the right which are light materials means you will get stuck in the mud! They are BAD choices as you might slip and fall or have to give up your ballet flats after the clean up.

Have a meaningful and effective coastal cleanup everyone!”

– Auntie Oscar