21 Year-Round Coastal Cleanups in 2016 – here’s to more tender loving care for our coasts!

Organisers are welcome to organise cleanups at any time of the year besides the annual data-gathering International Coastal Cleanup Singapore in September. During these Year-Round Coastal Cleanups (YRCC), data cards are set aside but we record the number and weight of the black trash bags for an estimate of the trash load at these sites, which we report on this blog.

We do invite individual volunteers as participants to some of these Year Round Cleanups, and you can stay informed, either by signing up for our mailing list, or by following this blog, our twitter feed or Facebook page.

To find out more about the four types of beaches (Categories A to D) an Organiser can tackle on their own, please see “Suggestions for Year Round Coastal Cleanups”. The help is welcome indeed and we suggest Organisers maximise their efforts by conducting more than one cleanup per year.

Last year, 21 YRCCs were organised by various groups – and multiple cleanups were organised by Bukit Batok Secondary School, NUS Toddycats, NUS High, Mediacorp and Adrian Lim and Friends. The most euphoric of these was our annual National Day mangrove cleanup alongside out stalwart Independents and NUS Toddycats. We shifted the cleanup to the tough site of Lim Chu Kang East Mangrove for the first time and did a really great job!

Here’s is to more love for our mangroves, beaches and shores in 2017!

2016 Year Round Cleanups

    • Wed 20 Jan 2016 – Pasir Ris 6 (PR6) by Bukit Batok Secondary School
    • Sat 09 Jan 2016 – Sungei Pandan Mangrove (SP2) by NUS Bachelor of Environmental Studies Community Education/Engagement Branch (BES CEB)

    • Mon 22 Feb 2016 – Chinese New Year coastal cleanup @ Tanah Merah (TM7) by NUS RVRC star and students [link]
    • Sat 27 Feb 2016 – Lim Chu Kang beach (LCK) cleanup by NTU Earthlink, Singapore Pools & Independents [link]
    • Sat 27 Feb 2016 – Pasir Ris 6 (PR6) by Bukit Batok Secondary School

    • Sat 26 March 2016 – Singapore World Water Day Sungei Pandan Mangrove (SP2) cleanup by NUS Toddycats/ICCS & Independents [link]
    • Sat 26 March 2016 – Singapore World Water Day Lim Chu Kang (LCK) cleanup by NUS College of Alice and Peter Tan

    • Sat 09 Apr 2016 – Pasir Ris 6 (PR6) by Bukit Batok Secondary School [link]
    • Sat 23 Apr 2016 – Earth Day cleanup @ Pasir Ris 6 (PR6) by Mediacorp [link]

    • Sun 08 May 2016 – Op (We) Lim Chu Kang mangrove (LCK) cleanup by NUS Toddycats/ICCS & Independents [link]
    • Wed 11 May 2016 – Sungei Pandan Mangrove (SP2) by NUS High
    • Fri 27 May 2016 – Coney Island Beach A by St. Andrew’s Junior School staff

    • Mon 27 Jun 2016 – Lim Chu Kang (LCK) by Danone, Google & NUS Toddycats/ICCS
    • Sat 04 Jun 2016 – World Environment Day cleanup @ Pasir Ris 6 (PR6) by Mediacorp [link]
    • Fri 10 Jun 2016 – World Oceans Day cleanup @ Coney Island Beach A by L’Oréal Singapore

    • Jul 2016 – Sungei Pandan Mangrove (SP2) by NUS High
    • 16 Jul 2016 – Sungei Seletar (SS1) by Adrian Lim & Friends

    • Sat 06 Aug 2016 – National Day Lim Chu Kang mangrove cleanup by NUS Toddycats/ICCS & Independents
    • Sat 06 Aug 2016 – Pasir Ris 6 (PR6) by Bukit Batok Secondary School

    • 11 Nov 2016 – Tanah Merah 5 (TM5) by Adrian Lim & Friends
    • 12 Nov 2016 – Sungei Pandan Mangrove (SP2) by NUS High

Happy birthday Singapore! From 90 volunteers who celebrated with a mangrove cleanup!

Once again, members of the public joined NUS Toddycats in commemorating National Day by coming together to clear marine trash from our precious mangroves – 90 volunteers cleared half a tonne of trash (573kg) in 103 trash bags from Lim Chu Kang East mangrove this year.

The cleanup was relocated to this tougher site as our usual site at Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove has received enough tender loving care of late that it remains relatively clean – encouraging news indeed!

Before the buses from Kranji MRT with most of the buses arrived, a pre-cleanup check of the site was conducted. We identified two beautiful mangrove pit vipers in LCK East mangrove and marked off the area to ensure they would not disturbed by the cleanup crew.

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The 90 volunteers were sorted into groups of 10 led by team leaders who were pushed through four insertion points into Lim Chu Kang East mangrove, slowly and carefully. Many hands make light work indeed and the small groups working hard amidst the vegetation also ensured we minimised our impact to the site.

We would not clear all of the trash that morning but the ICCS cleanup in September would take care of the rest. Meanwhile, it was good to realise see that the mangrove plant cover had improved considerably in LCK East mangrove.

I was really happy that I had NUS Toddycats with me – eleven of these experienced field biologists led small groups of volunteers deep into our plastic-ridden but precious LCK mangroves. Thanks to Amanda TanXu WeitingKenneth Pinto, Yang Yi YongFung Tze Kwan, Tan Chia WuTan Kai SceneAirani SAdriane LeeTeo Kah Ming & Theresa Su; also Joys Tan for handling pre-cleanup logistics. 

2016-08-06 10.18.08 pre-ND mangrove clean4p @ LCK East [AS]

It was a delight to see Sonneratia alba sprouting on the northern stream bank once again! We worked hard in this polluted stream to remove embedded plastic bags – the stream was still host to many crabs, fish, prawns, mudskippers and even horseshoe crabs, which still mate in the area.

Mangrover Theresa Su, the soothing sight of a capable field biologist amidst the mud!

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Organic pollutants from upstream was trickling down into the stream and raising an awful smell – this stinky organic effluent must be traced back to its source and eliminated. It pollutes the north-western mangroves in many spots, not just Lim Chu Kang East mangrove.

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Wheelbarrows are critically important in shifting half a ton of trash – we borrowed this from NUS CAPT, used the DBS pickup to bring to over to my RVRC office and rented a GoGoVan to transport it here in the morning – well worth all the effort! They will next be used at Tanah Merah during ICCS on 3rd September 2016.

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At the Weighing Station, volunteers weight and total up the weighed trash carefully! The weight does not reflect the number of items removed (e.g. a high amount of plastics is not heavy), but provides some indication at least of the amount of trash removed.

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A chain-gang of volunteers moved the accumulated half tonne of mangrove trash to the Trash Disposal Point, and thanks to the National Environment Agency’s Department of Public Cleanliness, their contractor will come at midday to help us with trash removal. All of such trash in Singapore ends up in an incineration point and its ash ultimately makes its way to the Pulau Semakau landfill the south.

What an amazing sight to behold once we were done, this is what a macro-trash free mangrove in Singapore would look like – may all our mangroves be as well-loved! #limchukang #mangrove #nationalday (Photo by Fung Tze Kwan)

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Always on hand, my first aid kits were thankfully needed just for one scratch today; sharing the comprehensive advise to participants before the cleanup, the pre-cleanup recce, the safety briefing with critical emphasis at the start, site captains and experienced independents amongst the volunteers, the slow and careful movement by everyone, the thick gloves issued to everyone, and the “gloves on always” rule – all of these help keep cleanups incident-free.

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Back at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore, a few of us NUS Toddycats see to the cleaning of the muddy gloves and wheelbarrows. These will be set aside to dry and then are packed away for the next cleanup! #reuse

2016-08-06 11.58.04 pre-ND mangrove clean0p @ LCK East [AS]

 

Always head into tough terrain with some help – I was really pleased with the 11 @nustoddycats who stepped up to be site captains when summoned that morning – they kept everyone safe in the tough terrain! Here, my former honours students are lined up chronologically – Maria, sister of Theresa Su (Hons 2009), Xu Weiting (Hons 2010), Fung Tze Kwan (Hons 2011) & Amanda Tan (Hons 2012).

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Hearty greetings for Singapore’ 51st National Day in the sun from the wonderful volunteers!

2016-08-06 10.43.17 pre-ND mangrove clean2p @ LCK East [AS]

Pre-National Day mangrove cleanup @ LCK East – registration closes tomorrow

101 people have signed up to celebrate National Day in a meaningful way with the pre-National Day mangrove cleanup at Lim Chu Kang East. Registration closes tomorrow.

 

The happy news is that the mangrove at the original site has a very low load of trash after an earlier year-round coastal cleanup in late June. So we are tackling the adjacent area of Lim Chu Kang East mangrove (view the map). We began working at this site in 2011 (see photos here and the burden of trash there has been reduced considerably.

Still, the 100 of us will have our work cut out for us.

There will ICCS cleanups a month after this, at both LCK and LCKE mangroves. These sites are experiencing their best relief from macro-trash in recent decades, which has been carefully achieved at several sites now, to manage impact even as we remove marine trash. What a grand and gradual effort by volunteers over 20 years!

For this cleanup, we’ve conducted our recce, booked two 45-seater buses to fetch volunteers from Kranji MRT, prepared the stores, updated participants, sought permission from SPF via SLA, and informed NEA DPC to help with trash removal – they all replied very quickly, by the way. And we look forward to the company of people who are making an effort to celebrate National Day in a meaningful way!

Celebrate National Day with a Coastal Cleanup @ Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove (Sat 06 Aug 2016)

Update – the Pre-National Day mangrove cleanup is relocated to LCK East mangrove.

Every year, volunteers with the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) celebrate National Day with a coastal cleanup @ Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove. This year we will be working on Saturday 6th Aug 2016: 8.00am – 10.30am.

To join us, Sign up here by 1st August 2016!
Transport will be provided from Kranji MRT to the cleanup site @ Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove

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Why do we conduct coastal cleanups? Habitats along Singapore’s coastlines host an amazing biodiversity and trash present in these areas impact our wildlife adversely and devalue the natural beauty of the landscape. Coastal cleanups conducted by volunteers around the world remove this trash, raise awareness about the impact of marine trash, and motivate us to work towards solutions. including sustainable daily practises.

Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove is an unprotected but precious patch of wetland, located in the northwest of Singapore. Incoming trash from the Johor Straits is regularly deposited on the shoreline and impacts the animals, plants and the organisms of the ecosystem there.

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Meeting Point: Participants can meet at the bus stop outside Kranji MRT (Bus code: 45139) and will be transported to the cleanup site at Lim Chu Kang road end, or meet us at the venue itself.

Itinerary 

  • 07.45am – Bus pick up at bus stop outside Kranji MRT (Bus code: 45139)
  • 08.15am – Bus arrives at the Lim Chu Kang Road end. Apply insect repellant, collect gloves and trash bags. Safety and procedure briefing.
  • 08.30am – Cleanup begins
  • 09.45am – End of cleanup; transport trash bags to Trash Collection Points 1–3.
  • 10.00am – Trash is weighed and moved to the Trah Disposal Point; debrief.
  • 10.15am – Participants clean up; there are no public amenities in this area an your legs must be clean to enter the bus. So bring some water.
  • 10.30am – Bus departs for Kranji MRT.

Things to note:

  1. Transport to Lim Chu Kang Beach, gloves, trash bags and weighing scales are provided.
  2. You must wear hard-soled covered shoes or booties to to protect your feet from hazards, else you will not be allowed to work in the area.
  3. A change of clothes is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  4. You must be clean to enter the bus – bring a cloth and extra water to do this.
  5. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites.
  6. We will continue the cleanup in rain (bring rain gear) but cease if there is threat of lightning.

Things to bring:

  1. Water bottle (with at least one litre of water)
  2. Hat and/ or sun block
  3. Reusable raincoat / poncho (we will work in light rain)
  4. Towel to wipe off sand and mud
  5. Change of clothes for public transport.

Be prepared:

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a decent breakfast – it’s hard work!
  3. Be punctual – the bus is unable to wait for latecomers; and the tide waits for no one!
  4. Refer to this recce report of Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove.
  5. Please read our advice to participants to prepare yourself for the cleanup!

Thank you for caring for our planet!

World Environment Day 2016 Saving Gaia Beach Cleanup and video

Mediacorp Saving Gaia organised in a beach cleanup on 4th June 2016 at Pasir Ris 6. Their staff volunteers collected and removed a total of 354.5kg of trash from the beach in conjunction with World Environment Day, we organized a beach cleanup at Pasir Ris Beach.

This is the second coastal cleanup they have conducted at Pasir Ris 6 this year and as a result, that beach ecosystem and marine life are getting significant relief from the burden of marine trash. Their third cleanup at Pasir Ris 6 will be part of ICCS in September. This is an excellent example of regular and continuous stewardship which we have seen exemplified too by Bukit Batok Secondary School.

To encourage more people to play their part in protecting the environment, Mediacorp Saving Gaia produced yet another excellent short video which all Organisers can share with their volunteers:

There is a Mandarin version too – available here!

Tender loving care for Pasir Ris 6 beach by the environmental stewards of Bukit Batok Secondary School

On 09 Apr 2016, 56 participants (44 students, 6 alumni and 6 teachers) of Bukit Batok Secondary School (BBSS) hit the beach for 90 minutes from 8.30am for a year-round coastal cleanup and removed 584 kg of trash from Pasir Ris 6 beach. This non recreational beach west of Pasir Ris Park is host to marine life and is not cleared regularly of marine trash.

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This was the third coastal cleanup BBSS conducted at PR6 this year, after the earlier cleanups of 20 Jan 2016 and 27 Feb 2016. They plan three more in July, August and September – the last will be part of the annual data-gathering International Coastal Cleanup Singapore. Isn’t this tender loving care for the marine environment and marine life at Pasir Ris wonderful?

BBSS’ cleanups at PR6 were carefully thought out. Mr Syam Lal Sadanandan, the Dean Normal (Technical) at Bukit Batok Secondary School wrote in November 2014 to ask for an opportunity to contribute to environmental protection. Emails were exchanged to prepare the group, fix dates and inform relevant agencies, before he and his fellow teachers met NE Zone Captain Yang Yi Yong for a recce of the site on 7th Feb 2015.

Ready for a series of safe cleanups, they conducted two on 14 Mar & 23 May 2015 but sadly September’s ICCS was cancelled due to the haze.

This year they are on track with three cleanups under their belt already, and have already relieved Pasir Ris 6 of more than a tonne of trash!

The continued and repeated efforts of small groups at a specific sites is extremely helpful for the protection of non-recreational coastal sites. So under the Year-Round Coastal Cleanup programme, we have tried to relieve sites of their marine trash load in a sustained but non-impactful manner:

The Year-Round Coastal Cleanup calendar at yrcc-cal.coastalcleanupsingapore.org
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The insult of marine trash on our shores is relentless. Certainly working on upstream issues is critical to the solution, and we pay close attention to those who champion this relentlessly in Singapore such as Zero Waste Singapore. In the meantime, we can help marine life immediately and directly. Thus we hope to encourage fieldwork-savvy groups to consider conducting more than one cleanup at a favourite site each year.

Sungei Pandan mangroves was a fairly recent site we turned attention to in 2008. It is no longer covered with a mat of plastic but we are not done yet. Some smaller sites nestled there are both tough sites to work in and sensitive sites we must be careful with. But we will persist and think of a future where none of this is necessary and marine life flourishes on our mangroves and shores in great health.

Meanwhile, the actions of organisers like the teachers of Bukit Batok Secondary School give me much hope!

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“Operation WE Cleanup” – 39 volunteers remove 403.5kg of trash from Lim Chu Kang mangrove [08 May 2016]

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Sun 08 May 2016 – 39 volunteers joined us early the morning for the “Operation WE Cleanup” at Lim Chu Kang mangrove. This movement is led by the Public Hygiene Council (PHC) to encourage Singaporeans to play a role in keeping our environment clean and we were glad that ICCS could support it!

Collectively, we removed a total of 403.5kg of trash (in 56 bags) over a 90 minute cleanup, leaving the beach looking so much healthier! There were lots of plastic bottles, straws, bags and styrofoam pieces of a variety of sizes. Where do you think they came from?

An exposed used syringe was carefully disposed – it is important that sharp objects be disposed properly and responsibly, to protect everyone who will handle the trash all the way to the incinerator. This is something we reinforce in every safety briefing prior to the cleanup – see Safety Advice for Participants on our website, which dates back to the 90’s!

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Medium trash load at Lim Chu Kang mangrove. I’ve found so many plastic straws within a small area!

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North-West Zone Captain, Adriane Lee.

During the cleanup, Adriane Lee chanced upon two mangrove pit vipers. Although venomous, like every other animal, they will not attack unless provoked. We kept our distance but encouraged everyone to enjoy the lovely view of the snakes on the tree. It certainly is important to be aware of our surroundings during a mangrove cleanup and watch where you place your hands and legs –points we cover in the safety briefing !

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The success of this and every other cleanup was due of course to our lovely team of volunteers who worked hard and were so responsive to coordination. It is a real joy to work with them and we are encouraged to organise more of these cleanups together!

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Happy volunteers in action – Part 1

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Happy volunteers in action – Part 2

Otterman shows how we work steadily on a patch of mangrove:
leave organics (including sand and mud) behind, and separate out glass”

Otterman sets up weighing stations with our lovely, obliging volunteers

During our Year Round Coastal Cleanups, we end with a debrief of the trash collected, type of trash and share information about the site, from its historical use to the present day and its conservation status. Our ICCS coordinator Otterman (N. Sivasothi), also identified ways in participants can reduce trash at home or at the workplace.

Sharing our experience with others is also important, he explained, as many would not believe the amount of trash that does settle on our shores in Singapore. We can all help by making small changes in our daily lives. No matter how small the effort might seem, collectively this can be significant!

Happy Singapore World Water Day everyone!

View 100+ photos on Flickr.

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Otterman giving a debrief at the end of the session.