Thu 30 Mar 2017: 7.00pm @ Yale-NUS – watch “Sorting It Out,” a recycling documentary and panel discussion

Yale-NUS students invite us to come watch “Sorting It Out,” an undergraduate documentary about recycling which they made to attempt to answer some burning questions:

  • What is recycling like in Yale-NUS and are they recycling enough?
  • How about recycling in Singapore?
  • Is recycling even as important as we imagine it to be?
  • How important is sustainable waste management to the economy?

Watch the documentary for free on Thu 30 Mar 2017: 7.00pm @ Performance Hall, Yale-NUS. the documentary will be followed by a panel discussion with academics and environmentalists about sustainable waste management in Singapore and beyond. To fond out more and get your tickets, list the Eventbrite webpage here.

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Our smooth-coated otters spark an excitement about our marine lfie!

In our series of talks about marine life and marine litter, we introduce some prominent species along our coasts, both vertebrate and invertebrate. This is so Singaporeans appreciate a value of coastal cleanups – make habitats more favourable for our marine life.

The iconic marine animal which sparks excitement in the crowd are smooth-coated otters. Both adults and children gasp at the photos and videos which many dedicated photographers have provided. Children are dramatic, though, they widen their eyes and scream in excitement!

Let’s hope that everyone can do their part in keeping Singapore a clean and green place for the otters and other marine animals to live in!

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Students from the Dulwich College watch a video by NParks “Kaya the Otter finds a new home”.

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Primary 5 students from CHIJ Kellock watch a video on the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio 5 otter family!

To see more photos and videos of Singapore otters, see OtterWatch.

Plastic bottles, plastic straws, plastic bags: How we celebrated Youth Day

11 July 2015 – ICCS celebrated Youth Day by conducting a Marine Biodiversity and Sustainability Workshop, as well as a cleanup at Sungei Pandan Mangrove (Site 1). 23 participants joined us for the workshop held at the Learning Lab in Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, which started off with a specimen show-and-tell session. These specimens reflected the mangrove biodiversity of Sungei Pandan, and gave our participants greater insights into animals such as the Mangrove Horseshoe Crab (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda), the Mud Lobster (Thalassina anomala), and the Dog-faced Water Snake (Cerberus rynchops).

11722161_1008211915864312_933592595218142248_oSpecimen show-and-tell session with ICCS Intern Becky Lee, and Veteran Toddycat Alvin Wong.

Following the specimen show-and-tell, N. Sivasothi aka ‘Otterman’ (Siva) gave a talk on Marine Biodiversity and Sustainability in the context of Singapore. Siva, who has coordinated ICCS since 2001 shared about natural habitats that still exist in Singapore and their ecological importance. Dr Amy Choong from the Department of Biological Sciences in National University of Singapore rounded off the workshop by sharing about waste management practices in Singapore, and sustainable habits each individual can take up to protect the environment.

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Left: N Sivasothi aka ‘Otterman’ sharing about mangroves that can still be found in Singapore.
Right: Dr Amy Choong speaking about waste collection and incineration in Singapore.

After the workshop, our participants got ready to head off to Sungei Pandan for the mangrove cleanup. More volunteers came to join us in the cleanup effort. With a total of 31 volunteers, we removed more than 200kg of trash in 50 trash bags! It was a muddy affair and an intense workout, lifting the trash laden bags out of the mangrove. But everyone pulled their weight and lent each other a helping hand when needed.

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A trash-ridden mangrove, filled with plastic bottles, plastic straws and plastic bags.

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During our cleanup, many of us got a special glimpse into the biodiversity of Sungei Pandan Mangrove. Sesarmine Crabs (Perisesarma sp.), Red Berry Snails (Assiminea sp.) and mud mounds by the Mud Lobster (Thalassina anomala) were aplenty! The stretches of mangrove in Sungei Pandan is precious to us, and despite it being reduced to 3 small, unprotected patches in the South West, it still holds much mangrove life and gives us much to be proud of. In our last cleanup, some of our participants were lucky to get a glimpse of the Smooth-coated Otters (Lutrogale Perspicillata) in the river!

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A big thank you to everyone who joined us for a meaningful Youth Day celebration!

“Marine Life and the Threat of Marine Trash” – ICCS talks for your organisation in Jun-Jul 2015!

ICCS conducts talks on local marine biodiversity and the dangers of marine trash for schools and corporate groups! If you would like your students or co-workers to learn more about these marine issues before your cleanup register with this form to arrange a talk in Jun-Jul 2015.

Please note that talks will no longer be available after 20 September 2015!

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7115062911_4c7e19db7aICCS 2012 Manpower Captain Jocelyne Sze speaking to Queenstown Secondary School students for Earth Day.

What do we cover during our talks?

1) Local Marine Biodiversity
What exactly are “marine habitats” and what can we find in these environments? Despite major land reclamation works on our coastlines, Singapore still does have a substantial amount of marine life! This section will give a brief introduction into marine flora and fauna, and where they can be found on our island.

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2) The Threat of Marine Trash
How “clean and green” are our beaches exactly? This section will offer insight into the plight of some beaches and mangroves in Singapore, and the dangers that trash in these environments pose to marine life, as well as to us.

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3) What the ICCS data tells us
What can we deduce about marine trash through looking at data? What does our trash mainly comprise of and what is the significance of data collection during coastal cleanups?

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4) What can we do?
How can we change our daily habits into more sustainable alternatives? This section will offer insight into small things individuals can do to play their part for the oceans.

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For blog posts about talks by ICCS in the past, see this page.

“Marine Life and the Threat of Marine Trash” – motivating students at the American Centre for Education (ACE)

15 Apr 2015 – I was despatched to the American Centre for Education (ACE) to deliver my first school talk about local marine biodiversity and the threat of marine trash. The fifty students I met there were being prepared for the Earth Day Coastal Cleanup at the trash-filled Pasir Ris 6 – where theory would become reality in a just a few days!

Students were delighted with the introduction to Singapore’s wonderful marine biodiversity and then appalled at the immense problem of trash on our shores. The mostly international students, accustomed to Singapore’s “Clean and Green” image, were visibly shocked when images of heavily polluted beaches and mangroves were flashed on the screen.

The talk ended with a short segment on lifestyle changes towards sustainability. Simple habits, such as saying no to plastic straws – items which are disposed after a mere 10 to 15 minutes – make a difference. Emphasis was placed on the REDUCE of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” to minimise our consumption of disposables.

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Students from American Centre for Education watch the MIDWAY Trailer by Chris Jordan attentively.

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Students study images of plastic pieces found inside a dead sperm whale.

This was my first talk as the ICCS Intern. Having no scientific background, I was initially unsure of my ability to communicate the issue of marine trash. However, research and practise made it possible for me to deliver this urgently needed talk. The information about trash in our ocean and the impact it has on biodiversity is voluminous and clear. I was given a long reading list, customised the ICCS slides, practised and received feedback from Zone Captains Sean Yap, Teo Kah Ming, Lim Cheng Puay and ICCS co-ordinator N. Sivasothi.

And then I sailed forth and delivered the talk. The audience response was the answer – they were shocked and motivated and I was glad I had ben able to share this urgent issue with them. If you are an Organiser of a Year-Round or International Coast Cleanup, you may contact us to arrange for a talk. I am looking forward to my next session!

Thanks to Vernessa Chuah for the photos.

The Leafmonkey Workshop – Trash Talking: Marine Trash and Us

28 Mar 2014 – ICCS Otters and The Leafmonkey Workshop combined forces to conduct a workshop on marine trash last Friday!

As always, November and Ria ran the workshop smoothly while I was the guest speaker for the night! Other ICCS Otters like Ng Kai Scene, Sean Yap, Suzanne Ou and Yang Yiyong were there too. Three of them were supposed to help as group leaders but the participants were such active contributors that they could relax!

It was a good mix of participants with varying degree of experience and all of whom bore a concern for marine trash issues. As most of the participants are nature savvy, I skimmed the marine life section of the ICCS talk and got into the main issue quickly – plastics. This section deals with a few issues:

  • the effects of trash on marine animals,
  • it’s eventual effects on humans through food chain,
  • our ‘throwaway’ lifestyle which is the main source of marine trash and
  • ways in which an individual could combat this problem.
  • The audience were a great bunch and turned the Q&A into an active discussion amongst all. It ended with the suggestion of a visit to recycling plant to better understand the recycling process, which Yi Han kindly offered to organise.

    Start of Trash Talking talk! Image taken by Suzanne Ou.

    Start of Trash Talking talk. Image taken by Suzanne Ou.

    The very keen and proactive audience of the night! Image taken by Sean Yap.

    The very keen and proactive audience of the night! Image taken by Sean Yap.

    Then we play a game in which participants acted out how they would convey a specific message to public and the audience would guess the message, out of a few options. Everyone threw up creative ideas and the skits by all the groups were hilarious! The most memorable skit was a “four horsemen of trash” in which four people surrounded a member of public and hissed out deadly effects of trash. It was indeed attention-grabbing!

    Four Horsemen of Trash!

    Four Horsemen of Trash!

    <img class="size-full wp-image-4157" src="https://coastalcleanup.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/photo-1.jpg" alt="The last 'White Turtle', Seannus Yappus. One of the group's presentation
    on how one’s action has impact on marine life.” width=”630″ height=”472″ />
    The last ‘White Turtle’, Seannus Yappus. One of the group’s presentation on how one’s action has impact on marine life.

    Finally we conducted a discussion about current issues related to marine trash, the gaps and possible solutions. It was fascinating listening to the ideas. One was about a “No Cleaners’ Day” to let Singaporeans realise the amount of trash and mess they generate daily, another was cool and sexy green marketing ideas and a narration with the ‘golden rule’ of a story in which the cute protagonist is killed in the end! A cute comic strip drawn by Sean ended with a punch line “But plastic didn’t kill the turtle, you did,” we thought was simple and effective!

    <img class="size-full wp-image-4161" src="https://coastalcleanup.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/photo_1_2.jpg" alt="Simple and effective comics that made use of the 'Golden Rule'!
    Comics and image by Sean Yap.” width=”630″ height=”707″ />
    Simple and effective comics that made use of the ‘Golden Rule’! Comics drawn and image taken by Sean Yap.

    The discussion lasted after the air-con was switched off! I was so glad that I was able to share my experience and the knowledge from ICCS and in the process, learn more through these discussion!

    For more info on the content of the workshop, check out the notes taken here. Thanks and good luck to everyone’s endeavour to save our oceans! 🙂

    Plastic recycling is just not economically attractive enough to be a solution

    Marcus Tay from International Coastal Cleanup, Singapore (ICCS) visited the Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) Singapore base for one of their regular ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions, on Tuesday, 4th September, to share on International Coastal Cleanup and what marine trash has got to do with each one of us.

    About 30 staff turned up and boy, was it an eye-opening session for some! The pictures and videos shown were indeed worth a thousand words. Marcus began by showing us a trailer of “Midway” – it was moving, to say the least. See it here: http://www.midwayfilm.com/

    During the session, more than a few got to find out that there are indeed marine life here in Singapore.

    After all, everyone loves baby turtles! And who can forget, the “Olympics” monitor lizards competing in Judo!

    Marcus also shared video excerpts by Capt. Charles Moore on the seas of plastic, who uses the iconic term “plastic soup” to describe our ocean today. One particular slide on the bioaccumulation cycle stood out.

    On International Coastal Cleanup, Marcus shared the why the cleanup is more than cleanup – data collection. It was heartening to see a map of so many concurrent Cleanups that will take place these few weekends throughout Singapore!

    One of the take-aways was what personal action we can take as an individual. Marcus was compelling in asking all to help solve the plastics waste problem at source: to only use what you really need.

    Only this is the real solution as even plastic recycling has its own issues: It is not as easily recyclable as compared to aluminium and glass due to its low melting point.

    OSRL Singapore has been taking part in the International Coastal Cleanup since 2008 and was at Tanah Merah site1-2 last Saturday, 8 September 2012. It was a first-time experience for a number of the staff and most cannot believe how much trash we pollute our recreational beach with. Needless to say, it was a tiring but well-spent morning. J

    By Jeannie Kwara from Oil Spill Response Limited