“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

APO Singapore – 3rd ICCS and counting! [Daniel Edpan]

The sun was up and the tide was low… just what we need to have a successful coastal cleanup!

On its 3rd year in a row of participation with the ICCS, the members and friends of Alpha Phi Omega Alumni Association of Singapore were very much eager to outdo the results from previous coastal cleanups which were hampered by bad weather conditions. A few days ago, I was a bit worried seeing the weather forecast with thunderstorms on Saturday (September 12) but luckily the weather was very cooperative.

After a short briefing on things to be done, grouping in pairs, we immediately proceed to the beach line starting from the river mouth of Sungei Api-Api towards Sungei Tampines. Another group was formed to do a portion of Sungei Api-Api mangroves that adds up to a total of 32 participants.

At first I thought we could not find any trash as the beach looks very clean from afar. But taking a closer look and a thorough check at the shore line we started to find a whole lot of trash from small pieces of cigarette butts, plastic food wrappers and straws, broken glass, strapping bands, fish nets and lines, a buoy,  ropes, a  55 gal. drum, some clothing, a styro box and pieces, alkaline batteries, car parts, building materials and a lot more. We even found some condoms and syringes which are very much unlikely you will find in these areas.

Most of the trash collected was concentrated at the mangroves area near the river mouth of Sungei Tampines where we found fish nets and fishing lines got tangled up with the mangroves – a hazard to all marine animals that lives in these areas!

Much to our surprise, the total weight of trash we’ve collected summed up to 129 kilograms – almost doubled from last year’s results where we collected a total of 67kg of rubbish!

Picking up trash specially in the seashore area is fun but it’s no joke to laugh about! Comparing the results from previous years of coastal cleanups is very alarming. The amount and volume of trash collected doubled in just a short period of time!

A large percentage of these trash is being contributed by human activities which is very irresponsible and ignorant in nature. This kind of behavior is causing a great deal of destruction to our marine environment – and it would take years to rejuvenate a destroyed ecosystem. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

I think it is high time to change the mindsets of the general public. We need to have more environmental awareness programs specially at schools to reach out to the younger generations. It is also the duty of the authorities to implement some strict measures on existing laws which are most of the times neglected and ignored.

In behalf of APO Alumni Association of Singapore, I would like to say thank you to the organizers of ICCS for giving us another chance to participate in this years' coastal cleanup and we hope to see you all again on next year’s ICCS and more years to come and hoping for a clean & green Singapore!!!

Daniel Edpan
APO Singapore

More photos on Picasa.

Posted via email from International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

The first ICCS Pulau Semakau cleanup: the Tide Chaser blogs

The first ICCS at Pulau Semakau!

“After picking up the rubbish, we had the tedious task of carrying them back to the collection point. For the group at the furthest zone, it was lugging over 20kg worth of rubbish each for almost 1.5km!”

Phew! See the Tide Chaser’s blog – link.

Congratulations to HSBC, RMBR Nature Guides and MEWR!

“Our journey to the mangrove coast at Lim Chu Kang”

Our journey to the mangrove coast at Lim Chu Kang

The place was serene and magnificent.

It was my first time there, for the International Coastal Cleanup 2009. Our organiser, Amy Choong, is a very inspiring leader. She explained our objective of being there as green ambassadors cleaning up the mangrove.

Armed up with shopping bags, gloves, data cards, it was 36 Republic students and 2 facilitators in all, and we were in high spirits.

Trudging through the thick mud, I began picking up artificial objects that were not supposed to be there.

Plastics, oil drums, fishing nets, ropes are some of the many non-biodegradable things that me and the others found. Maybe nature has it is a second chance to relive itself from destruction as we, humans were trying our best to help get Nature free from those plastics, metal, rubbery materials.

The important lesson we learnt so far is we should not carelessly throw our unwanted items such as can drinks, refrigerator to the ground, soil or drainage system as these items were brought back to the sea. If we can work this out, things will improve and life will be more meaningful and pleasant to think about.

The sea contains a rich ecosystem that is precious to us. We should not abandon our beaches and mangroves to their destruction – this was an eye-opening experience that could never be felt within my comfort zone.

The event was truly a SUCCESS. We feel the strong urgency to help raise awareness of our vulnerable coast. 

By Nur Afiqah Bte Mohd Azman, Republic Polytechnic

See the photo album of the cleanup Lim Chu Kang mangroves on Flickr – link.