“The Earth’s Call,” by Julienne Reblora

“The Earth’s Call,” by Julienne Reblora, Hougang Sec Red Cross Unit

All my life, I’ve never seen a polluted beach. All the beaches I have ever seen were in beach resorts which are kept clean by hired help. As a volunteer with the International Coastal Cleanup, however, our school’s Red Cross Unit gave me the opportunity to be part of the all the beach cleaning action.

Initially, we only found bits and pieces of styrofoam. Penetrating deeper into the swampy area, however, my golly, you wouldn’t believe it – we discovered a LOT of styrofoam had been washed into the mangrove! My group got very excited as the day progressed because we found more and more styrofoam and the pieces got bigger and bigger. Engrossed in the activity, we wanted to finish collecting it all, but a lot of styrofoam was stuck in inaccessible areas.

We gathered all our debris and recorded the weight and the number of pieces collected. Other trash items included barrels, fish nets, plastics and so on. It was surprising to see that beaches are polluted by so much trash.

This experience opened my eyes to what’s happening around me. We are so preoccupied with unnecessary things – don’t forget that there’s a world out there that needs attention. It needs our help. We were the ones that brought bad changes to the environment, but we are also the hope for a better and cleaner world. The Earth is the only inhabitable planet. The future lies in our hands.

Let us work together to make a difference; this is the best gift we can give to Mother Earth, who has sustained us and nurtured us for a long time. Change in the society starts in each one of us, so do your part!

“A meaningful cleanup,” Bernice Seow

“A meaningful cleanup,” Bernice Seow, Hougang Sec Red Cross Unit
I was expecting the usual pick-up-litter-only-to-get-the-beach-dirtied-less-than-one-hour-later community involvement project. However, this was clearly different – for starters, it was a mangrove cleanup at Lim Chu Kang mangrove and not an East Coast beach cleanup. And we weren’t only going to pick litter but collate data too! 

This last aspect of the cleanup made it a more meaningful activity than normal – by collecting data on the amount and type of debris accumulating at the mangrove, the people with the ICCS programme will figure out the most common material or type of litter thrown.

This will enable the individual to take action and educate the public on the harms of littering. This include the destruction of natural habitats and unfortunate incidents of unsuspecting animals devouring these rubbish and falling sick!

It took a lot of hard work ( and an entire morning! ) to pick up most of the debris there, but it sure was worth it!

“A rubbish dump instead of a beach!” By Chan Wen Xin

“A rubbish dump instead of a beach!” By Chan Wen Xin, Hougang Sec Red Cross Unit

Lim Chu Kang mangrove swamp was littered with different kinds of rubbish. My group collected a total of 842 pieces of styrofoam when we ran out of time – but there was still more to collect!

Can you imagine what will happen if this large amount of rubbish lay uncollected year after year? We would have a rubbish dump instead of a beach!

We can do our part to reduce the amount of litter dispose of, choose to pack our food with reusable lunch boxes and use own recycled bags instead of plastic bags.

Fishermen could be educated not to dispose of their fishing nets by just leaving them on the beach or swamp area. I think we could all work harder to keep mother earth a cleaner place. 🙂

“The extent of man’s imprudence,” by Ian Tan

“The extent of man’s imprudence,” Ian Tan (HS Red Cross Unit)

I have been blissfully unaware, or perhaps ignorant, as to the extent of man’s imprudence. Now, I am aware. And one short trip to the beach was al it took.

When I arrived at the beach, my first impression was ‘’It’s filthy with dead plants and crabs…’’ I soon learned, however, that the filth did not come merely from dead carcasses of beach animals and rotting logs. No, the problem lay far deeper than that. Upon closer inspection, me and my fellow cadets found traces of man’s ‘’work’’ lying all around us.

Our mission? To collate data of what kind of trash could be found on the beach, to see what materials made up most of the trash. Plastic, styrofoam, glass – all these had to be collected. Armed with gloves and trash bags, we set off, and my group sure found a lot of styrofoam!

When you aren’t looking for trash, you tend to ignore it. When you are looking for it, you suddenly realise how much of it there is. That was exactly what happened. I was left shell-shocked at the scene – discarded plastic bottles and bags, shredded styrofoam boxes covering the expanse of the beach and more. What shook me to the core was a tree. A mangrove tree.

Discarded fishing nets had found their way to the beach where the nets got entangled with the roots of the tree. Over time, as the tree grew, and more fishing lines washed up on the beach, the nets and ropes became embedded and tangled with the mangrove roots. As I lent a helping hand in extricating the nets which were choking the roots, my surprise doubled – there metres-long worth of nets and ropes with some embedded so deep into the plant, it was impossible to pull out! That was when I woke to the true implications of man’s destruction – it had been going on for so long, the results were devastating.

Five of us working together did so little to help the plant. An hour’s work didn’t even clear a quarter of what lay entangled within its roots. But yet, it made me feel so much better, that I had contributed in helping the tree breathe more easily and that the beach looked a lot cleaner than when we first started.

I feel that activities like this truly help to open our eyes to the harshness of reality. It brings us out of our comfort zone and shows us the bitter truth—that our world is dying, and it is dying fast. Not only does this kind of activities help with team bonding, it helps the environment, and this single activity may have given the beach a longer lifespan.

I feel very happy that I have been able to help the world, even if what I did is only a millionth of a fraction compared to what others do. I feel that we should do this more, as it has been said ‘’A little difference can set in motion a chain of events that can either destroy, or save this world’’.

I opt to have the difference do the latter. We can’t stop global warming, but we can slow it, for the sake of the next generation. They did nothing to deserve a life filled with misery and hardships physically. But all of this starts with that very small effort to help the world.

Northland Primary reflects on the International Coastal Cleanup [Ho Kexin]

Let’s Pick Up Rubbish!

On 19 September 2009, 7 teachers and 10 pupils from Northland Primary School did their part for the environment by collecting, categorising and disposing  litter at Changi Beach.

The amount of rubbish found on the beach and floating in the sea was astounding! We picked up items like styrofoam pieces, plastic bottles, cigarette butts, and even a plug and a slipper.

Picking up all this trash at the beach was pretty tedious but we left with smiles on our faces, hoping we had done our part to make it a cleaner place. It was a wonderful learning experience for all of us.

By Ho Kexin

See and download the full gallery on posterous
Posted via email from International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

SUVEC Offroaders bring for their mean machines to Tanah Merah [Iwan Kurniawan Ahmad]

The sky looked rather gloomy when we left our homes for Tanah Merah this morning. Nevertheless, the SUVEC off-roaders were determined to complete their mission – Operation TM Cleanup – this is the third year running SUVEC has contributed to the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Driving our mean machines (four wheel drives) through the Changi Coastal Road in the wee hours of the morning, we were praying that the heavens would not open up too soon.  A cozy group of 12 (10 adults and 2 children) converged at the NSRCC Sea Sports Centre carpark at 0830 hrs.  Some had no breakfast, others were fasting and everybody was in a chirpy mood.  

After the briefing formalities (objectives, data collection and safety briefing), we headed towards the beach affectionately coded as Tanah Merah 3, Tanah Merah 4 and Tanah Merah 5 (about 500 m worth of coastline) respectively.

Despite the relatively small number of volunteers, we worked in pairs – one picking up the litter while the other recording the data.  The role was reversed after half an hour. The debris collected was predominantly from shoreline and recreational activities. Styrofoam pieces and cigarette butts were in abundance. One of the pairs managed to find a horseshoe crab entangled in a fishing line.  Alas, upon closer examination, we realized that the crab could not be saved!

Some of the more peculiar items found include a cone which was brought in by the tide, a big blue jerrycan (possibly from ocean/waterway activities) as well as a huge can of milk powder.

The initial plan was to transport all the debris collected to nearby Changi Village using our 4WDs. However, we met up with one of the coordinators, (ICCS Otters) Vu Tinh Ky who saved us all the trouble by telling us to leave the items collected at the rubbish point along the beach as prior arrangements had been made with NParks for the items to be disposed later.  

Then, it started to pour! The heavens opened up at around 10.20 hrs leaving us rather drenched. When there was no sign that the rain would stop and in the interest of safety, we called it a day.  So we drove up to Kallang MacDonald's for a debrief, fill up the empty stomach as well as to collate the data. Despite several attempts to upload the data submission spreadsheet via Wireless@SG, it never went through. Since the data is to be submitted urgently, arrangements were made for to have it delievered at a separate location [Thanks, SUVEC! – ed.].

Overall, we had fun although we wish we could do a longer cleanup.  Cannot wait for the next cleanup event!

Iwan Kurniawan Ahmad

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Team SPF environmentalists takes on the Pandan Mangrove [James Chng]

On 12 Sept 2009, 19 senior officers from the Singapore Police Force went from protecting the nation to protecting the environment as they traded their revolvers for trash bags and got down to clearing the Pandan Mangrove, all in the name of environmentalism.

Coordinated by the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, the Pandan Mangrove Cleanup attracted participants from the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), Raffles Museum Toddycats, the Department of the Biological Sciences (NUS) and independent volunteers as well. The cleanup was part of an international effort to cleanup and to collate information regarding marine litter.

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Our men in blue started their operation at 8.30am and got right into the thick of action. It was a first experience for many of the officers, but there was no hesitation as they trudged deep into the mangroves and deftly navigated the uneven terrain interjected by muddy mounts, exposed roots and an assortment of marine litter.


Working in groups of 3, the officers scoured the mangrove for all manner of refuse and promptly bagged any debris found. There were various non-biodegradable waste strewed all over the mangrove floor, with the most prevalent being plastic bottles, plastic bags, Styrofoam pieces and other industrial building materials like plastic sheets, pipes and rubber tires. In fact, the number of plastic bags collected amounted to almost 50% of all debris collected for that morning.

While deep in the mangrove, one officer even had a surprise encounter with a small water snake that was entangled in the tire he was attempting to clear. Without delay, our officers cautiously freed the snake which promptly slithered away deep into the mangrove.

By the end of the cleanup, the team from the Singapore Police Force had filled a total of 43 trash bags with debris from the mangrove weighing a hefty 233 kg. The team had collected a total of 2,620 items from just a 50 meter stretch. Collectively, participants from the cleanup amassed a total of 3,759 items weighing in at a total of 1,745 kg – see data.

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In all it was an extremely enriching and educational experience for our officers as they were alerted to how marine debris can endanger the lives of many marine creatures like sea turtles, crabs and albatrosses. The waste that we carelessly discard might be accumulated in such mangroves, serving to proliferate the problem and escalate the level of threat to the precious myriad of marine life that inhabits these mangroves.

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By P/INSP James Chng
Police Training Command
Home Team Academy
501 Old Choa Chu Kang Rd S698928

More photos on Flickr.

Posted via email from International Coastal Cleanup Singapore