Join us in our First Year-round Cleanup at Tanah Merah!

Following up from our previous call for volunteers to help manage cleanups at Tanah Merah and our subsequent meeting at the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, the volunteer Site Buddies are getting the action going!

Site Buddy Gladys Chua has put out a call for interested members of the public to volunteer some of their Saturday morning time to cleanup up the beach at Tanah Merah.

First year-round cleanup @ Tanah Merah
Date: 11 February 201
Time: 8.00am to 10.00am
Venue: Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal Departure Hall entrance/exit [ See map  for more details ] 

Gladys has put up a really comprehensive post detailing what the objectives are, the attire you should wear, items you should bring and how you can get there by public transport. Interested volunteers can register their interest by filling up the form on her blog!

 

We hope to see you at Tanah Merah on 11 February 2012!

Youth volunteers needed for Asian Green Youth Challenge!

We received an email from Cui Xiao Wen, Chairperson of the Asian Green Youth Challenge, requesting for our help in putting out an advertisement! They are currently recruiting members to form part of the Organising Committee.

Asian Green Youth Challenge is a youth initiated project under Social Innovation Park, devoted to incubating new, youth-based, innovative environmental projects and organisations. There are four stages in our project, Online web campaign, Conference, Competition and Incubation Programmes.

They are partnering the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) to host an Information Sharing Session for interested volunteers.

Date: 4 February 2012
Time: 2.00pm – 3.00pm
Address: National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC)
6 Eu Tong Sen Street #04-88 The Central
NVPC is located right at Level 4 within The Central, directly above Clarke Quay MRT.

You can find out more about their proposal, the recruitment drive, and the Information Sharing Session by clicking the related links.

NUS @ ICCS 2011 – Going Green and Greener in our 9th year!

NUS Environmental Science and Engineering Students Club reflect on their efforts in leading NUS staff and students to the International Coastal Cleanup to a new cleanup site this year at Lim Chu Kang East mangrove. This is the 9th year of their efforts, which began in 2003!

On 17 September 2011, approximately 125 staff and student volunteers from NUS conducted a cleanup at Lim Chu Kang East mangrove as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS). They were also accompanied by a team of experienced personnel, including Mr N. Sivasothi who has been coordinating mangrove cleanups since 1997.

The International Coastal Cleanup is conducted in over 70-100 countries. Volunteers do more than remove debris from the shorelines and waterways, they also collect data on the type and amount of debris to bring about positive change. This is through recognition of the specifics of the marine debris problem as the data is public and also submitted to governments and international organisations


The morning briefing with the biodiesel-fueled buses
parked along Lim Chu Kang Lane 9

Each year, we re-use gloves and clipboards which are washed and kept away and ICCS data cards were printed on single-side used paper to minimise waste. An additional green touch was achieved by collaborating with Alpha Biodiesel – the three 44-seater buses which brought students and staff from and back to NUS were supplied with Alpha biodiesel – processed from used cooking oil, the net life cycle emissions of such fuel is 95% less than that of ordinary diesel fuel, thus reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released to the environment [Chua, C. B. H., H. M. Lee & J. S. C. Low, 2010. Life cycle emissions and energy study of biodiesel derived from waste cooking oil and diesel in Singapore. Int J Life Cycle Assess, 15 (4): 417-423.] .

We were glad to make this year’s ICCS event a little greener and hope this collaboration will continue!

The mangroves at Lim Chu Kang East have been choked by an accumulation of marine trash from various sources including shoreline activities, dumping and local construction debris over the years – this was the first time the area would be cleaned!

NUS staff and students endured the heat, dirt, mud, and even the occasional “rotten-egg” smell (due to hydrogen sulphide being naturally released from the mangrove soil) – for about 90 minutes. This effort to rid the mangrove of as much trash as possible eliminated a total of 1,887 kg of debris in 181 trash bags excluding bulky items such as oil drums and tyres – imagine the total amount of waste!


Plastic debris amidst the mangrove estuary before the cleanup


Count and categorise before clearing trash


Free of plastic once again, phew!

ICCS-NUS LCKeast 92iccs-lim_chu_kang_east-17sep2011[adinesh] | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Data collation

The most frequently collected items included plastic bags and plastic beverage bottles. Several interesting discoveries included a television set, car bumper, basin and even a toilet bowl! There was indeed a stark contrast in the appearance of the mangrove before and after the cleanup. For details of the debris collected, see the ICCS Results page for LCK East mangrove at http://coastalcleanup.nus.edu.sg/results/2011/nw-lckeast-nus.htm

ICCS2011 - LCK East mangrove

This was the 9th year that students from the NUS Environmental Science and Engineering Students Club (ESESC) have been organising the cleanup for NUS students and staff. During the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium III held a week after ICCS on 24 September 2011, the club was recognised for its dedicated efforts and contributions.


NUS ESESC president, Algernon Hong receiving the ICCS citation
from the Minister of State for National Development, BG (Res) Tan Chuan-Jin

It was definitely great to see everyone toiling hard in the morning to play their part for the coastal environment. We hope the event serves as a reminder to each and every individual of the need to reduce the use of non-biodegradable items and to dispose trash appropriately to safeguard the health of the marine animals, ourselves and the environment.

Finally, we wish our juniors in the years ahead, great success at ICCS 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015…until our marine debris problem is eliminated!

By Derek Ang and Vionna Luah, on behalf of all the organisers of ICCS-NUS 2011. Photos by Andy Dinesh.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

The ICCS Briefing rejuvenates on a wet Saturday morning!

Some 100 volunteers and members of the public roused themselves on a wet, wet morning of a public holiday to attend the talk on “Marine Life in Singapore and the Impact of Man,” by N. Sivasothi a.k.a. Otterman.

The annual lecture is conducted by the coordinator of the ICCS for volunteers attending the coastal cleanup around Singapore and this year was extended to members of the public.

It was a public holiday for Singapore citizens to vote for the president of the country – we could not shift the date though, because every Saturday until the coastal cleanup was busy. On the advise of friends who have been polling agents, it as decided going head with the briefing in the morning was a good option as polling booth queue taper off by late afternoon and are absent by evening.

Excitement aside, with the energy in the LT was sleepy and Siva started slow and easy as he dealt with the changes to Singapore’s natural landscape over the years, and the amount of natural habitats we have lost. That was merely preamble to the question, “Is there anything left?”

The audience then perked up at the animated stories, photos and videos that Siva shared of marine life in Singapore – baby turtles, dugong dissection, leaping dolphins, crocodiles, iconic mudskippers and wrestling monitor lizards.

ICCS Briefing 2011 @ NUS LT 25
The audience is listening

The story behind the monumental few seconds appearance of our humble mangroves on David Attenborough’s Life in Cold Blood, adorable otters and the threat to prehistoric horseshoe crabs also piqued the crowd’s interest and excitement.

ICCS Briefing 2011
Ahem, yes, it was tough for some to get up early on a rainy, Saturday public holiday!

Siva guzzled some coffee brought to him during the ten-minute break to warm himself up and then introduced the ICCS Oters who had come (most had been encouraged to take the day off)”

  • Andy Dinesh (Recce Captain),
  • Xu Weiting (East Coast/Tanah Merah Zone Captain),
  • Airani S (Data Captain),
  • Marcus Tay (Changi Zone Captain) and
  • myself, Jocelyne Sze (Volunteer Manager).

He then addressed the threats faced by our marine environment from freshwater flood incidents, oil spills, pollution and most pertinently, marine trash. The history and motivation behind the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore featured a quarter-century old photo and led to the critical section for eager volunteers, “What happens on the actual day?” Siva had stepped up his pace and the crowd was hyped up now!

After the emphasis on marine trash, the important discussion about what individuals can do to help ended off on a very inspired note! All this ended minutes before the promised 11.00am so people could go for lunch and go vote! (:

Andy Dinesh took a video of the entire talk, and here it is!

Meeting old and new friends is always a delightful part of ICCS and Martha Began of Singapore American School which is a 20-year veterans, came with a bunch of her students and members of their SAVE club.

Martha Began & Sivasothi

As the Volunteer Manager, I was busy attending to a few independents, site buddies and even new organiser Bhavani Prakash who is stepping up to coordinate a cleanup for her friends, who is away doing the same in Bali this year.

ICCS Briefing 2011

While we were busy chatting, a bit of photo-taking went on as most of us would be working in different sites on the day of the cleanup. We were in good company that day and some students from Tanglin Trust School will be taking a step further and joining Raffles Museum Toddycats to talk about their plans for biodiversity exhibitions next week.

ICCS Briefing Tanglin Trust

The ICCS volunteers and members of the public certainly left left with a better awareness of the marine life we have and the motivation, issues, urgency and details for a safe, efficient and green cleanup on the 17th of September 2011. See you at the beach soon everyone!