Auntie Oscar’s Field Experience Tips for Chek Jawa Coastal Cleanups – perfected over a decade of TLC Part 2

Following the previous blogpost on the useful tools, Auntie Oscar continues to share her invaluable experience with some practical field tips for a messy mangrove cleanup:

Bags Area  – Centralize bags together so that volunteers do not have to carry them while working. Appoint a volunteer (usually the data recorder) to look after the bags.

Get a Pole –  In every cleanup we can always find a strong pole or branch for our weighing.  The spare hook here allows us to hoist up the weight using the pole instead of sheer muscle man so girls can do the job too!

Losing your Sole – Classic example of a good shoe ruined by the mangrove. Usually volunteers with inappropriate shoes will be tasked as data recorder and sit near the dry area to guard our bags and monitor time.

Large Tire – [Operation Tire] took about 40 mins to extract as it is buried in compact sand. After some loosening, the tire resurfaced and adds onto our collection of treasure.

Buried Barrel – It took 6 people to dig for 30 mins for the barrel to surface. Hence tools are essential such as a foldable shovel.  We yell for [Operation Barrel] as a code to rally nearby volunteers to support. 😉

Marine Life – This large crab attacked us as he escaped from the barrel we dug up. We are happy for the feisty creature and set it free after a photo record.

Entwine – The tussle ends of large marine rope are often found wrapped around mangrove roots. Volunteers can wriggle free some parts but eventually cutting tools such a handsaw would be needed in this instance.

Silent Killer – It is amazing to see how plastics can choke up the mangrove tree roots as the tides comes in and goes out daily, the plastics find their way to wrap themselves tightly, suffocating the roots.

Sorting Area and workflow:  In muddy mangroves such as at Chek Jawa Central Sites, it could get a little difficult to record and pick up marine trash at the same time. Hence I have created the following workflow:

  • S1:safely briefing & group forming
  • S2: gathering of trash (no recording)
  • S3: bring all trash to Sorting Area
  • S4: sort out types of trash
  • S5: count trash collectively (data recording)
  • S6: packing & weighing (data recording)
  • S7: move  trash to trash disposal point.
  • S8: take group photo

That ends my field experience tips for a cleanup at mangrove sites. If you have any other questions, do chat with auntie Oscar: askauntieoscar@hotmail.com

– Auntie Oscar

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