“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.

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Operation WE Clean Up @ Lim Chu Kang Beach & Mangrove (Sun 08 May 2016: 7.30am) – join us!

“Operation WE Clean Up!,” led by the Keep Singapore Clean Movement aims to encourage Singaporeans to reflect on the cleanliness of their environment. In conjunction with the movement, ICCS will be organising a coastal cleanup on Sunday, 08 May 2016: 7.30am to 11.30am.

Please register here.

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To read up more about “Operation WE Clean Up!,” please visit the Public Hygiene Council page.

Why Cleanup? Singapore shores are host to a magnificent biodiversity that has survived innumerable pressures from man. Marine trash in these areas adversely impacts our wildlife, releases toxic chemicals and devalues the natural beauty of the landscape. Coastal cleanups conducted by volunteers around the world remove this trash, raise awareness of the plight of our oceans, and motivate us to rethink our habits in daily urban living to push us towards sustainable practises.

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Lim Chu Kang Beach located in the northwest of Singapore, is an iconic beach and mangrove next to Lim Chu Kang Jetty. Facing the Western Straits of Johor, it it besieged by trash from numerous land-based sources deposited into rivers, as well as from offshore fish farms. The precious mangrove is an area where this trash accumulates and impacts the life there.

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 Beach.

Bus pick up point

Itinerary 

07.30 – Bus pick up at bus stop outside Kranji MRT (Bus code: 45139)
08:00 – Arrive at the end of Lim Chu Kang Road, unload all logistics from the bus.
08:15 – Apply insect repellant, collect gloves and trash bags. Briefing about the site, wet weather plans (carry on unless lighting threat), form groups of four, move to site, identification of Trash Collection Point (TCP
08:30 – Cleanup begins
09:00 – Transportation of trash to TCP.
09:30 – End of clean-up. Trash is weighed and participants debriefed
10:00 – Participants clean up (bring water to ensure you are clean enough to board the bus). Note that there are no recreational facilities nearby.
10:30 – Bus will transport participants from cleanup site back to Kranji MRT.
11:00 – We say goodbye at 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.
  3. A change of clothes is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  4. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites, but bermudas are fine.
  5. In the event of bad weather, we will continue the cleanup. The event will stop in the case of lightning threat.

Things to bring:

  1. Water bottle (with at least one litre of water), to drink and cleanup yourself with
  2. Towel to wipe off sand and mud
  3. Hat and/ or sun block
  4. Reusable raincoat/ poncho (we will work in a drizzle)

Be prepared:

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a decent breakfast – it’s hard work!
  3. Bring a snack to munch on immediately after the cleanup.
  4. Be punctual – we are unable to wait for latecomers; tide waits for no one!
  5. Bring water and a small towel to clean yourself with – else no boarding the bus!
  6. Refer to this recce report of Lim Chu Kang Beach for more information on the cleanup site.

Thank you for caring for our planet!

Singapore World Water Day – 29 volunteers remove 415.5kg of trash (43 trash bags) @ Sungei Pandan Mangrove [26 March 2016]

29 volunteers celebrated World Water Day Cleanup @ Sungei Pandan on 26 March 2016 – beaming with enthusiasm and with quiet intent that early Saturday morning, they certainly raised our spirits!

They had hopped onto a bus from from Kent Ridge and Dover MRT stations to our gathering point at the Jalan Buroh B25 bus stop. Against the noisy traffic, and with the help of a handy gigaphone, ICCS Coordinator Sivasothi aka Otterman introduced the site and its ecosystem before the ICCS -IKEA Intern Joys Tan (that’s me!) embarked on my first safety briefing!

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After many years of cleanups, the trash load at Sungei Pandan is now low and dominated by plastic sheets, cups, bottles, wrappers, straws, styrofoam (eps) and canvas bags. Many were embedded in the grass patch and mangrove floor, which requires a great effort for removal. Our volunteers were not dismayed but worked away, intent on improving the conditions in this rare mangrove spot in the south of Singapore – just look at the bright smiles on their faces!

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The ninety minute cleanup was an intense effort! So some of us took break after an hour to catch our breath and rest some weary muscles. Eventually it was time and we transferred and weighed the trash bags and set them aside at the agreed location for the NEA DPC contractors who ensure the trash gets disposed.

We debriefed the team by the roadside and reported a removal of 415.5kg of trash in 43 trash bags from the mangrove after an effort of 90 minutes! We discussed the type of trash we saw, remarked on the need to share the experience to encourage everyone to reduce trash at the source in our daily lives.

Otterman concluded with the biodiversity and heritage value of these precious remnant mangroves at Sungei Pandan and of the positive impact of the cleanups had made over the years. And we thanked the lovely volunteers for making a difference to Singapore!

Photos from the cleanup are available on Flickr and Facebook.

That was really some awesome work, volunteers! Thank you for protecting the environment!

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NTU Earthlink, Singapore Pools & Independents remove a ton of trash at Lim Chu Kang mangrove in two hours, hooray! [27 Feb 2016]

78 volunteers gathered at the end of Lim Chu Kang Road at 8.00am on a Saturday morning on 27th February 2016.

Led by environment club NTU Earthlink, the 47 students were joined by 11 staff of Singapore Pools and 20 independents (members of public and ICCS). NTU Earthlink’s Nature Guiding Director Wong Zhi Sian carefully went through the operation procedure and safety briefing, and identified the first aider for the day. Gloves and trash bags were handed and volunteers were ready for action!

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I have been to Lim Chu Kang mangrove several times of cleanups but am still appalled by the sight of the trash which is recruited there! As the landward side is a nature area with no recreation activity, it is the trash load from the Straits of Johor which is brought in by incoming currents. Bulky items such as chairs, barrels, canoes and fishing nets, often pepper the mangrove, possibly abandoned by the fishermen operating both near shore and offshore.

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Trash at the Lim Chu Kang Mangrove.

Most of the team worked the sandy beach which was heavily polluted with macro-trash – especially numerous were straws, plastic bottles and styrofoam pieces. Two fishing nets (about 3m in length) were also removed.  With the help of the North-West Zone Captain Adriane Lee, seven other volunteers successfully untangled, removed and transported one of the fishing nets out of the mangrove. This took approximately half an hour, phew!

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Look at our happy volunteers!

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The curse of plastic straws! Say no to single use disposable straws, please.

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Eight volunteers transporting a massive trash.

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Volunteers and North-West Zone Captain, Adriane Lee, removing a fishing net.

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After an excellent two hours of cleanup (60 minutes for a year-round cleanup is typical), volunteers formed a human chain to move the trash bags to Weighing Point and then to the Trash Disposal Point. After some quick calculations, Zhi Sian cheerfully announced that we removed a total of 982.5kg of trash from the mangrove.

What a great contribution, volunteers!

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Transporting trash via a human chain made our work easier.

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Weighing trash bags.

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Well done, volunteers!

Thank you for an excellent contribution to protecting the environment, NTU Earthlink, Singapore Pools and Independents!

Photo album on Flickr.

NUS’ Ridge View Residential College Chinese New Year coastal cleanup @ TM7 – 204kg of trash removed by 38 students and staff [22 Feb 2016]

On the blazing hot afternoon of 22 February 2016, 38 students and staffs from the NUS Ridge View Residential College (RVRC) conducted a coastal cleanup at Tanah Merah Site 7, a non-recreational beach located adjacent to the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. They removed 29 trash bags of marine trash weighing 204kg.

This cleanup is a feature of the college’s GEM1917 module “Understanding and Critiquing Sustainability”, but more importantly, it is a part of raising awareness of the marine debris problem and its harmful impacts on the environment.

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An astounding number of expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) pieces, plastic bottles, plastic pieces, glass bottles, cigarette lighters, slippers and toys were found at the beach.

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Several bulky items such as a rope and a television were also seen on the beach, some of which were embedded deeply in the sand. These trash require strategic removal with much effort and patience. It was a test of the participants’ teamwork spirit and I’m glad they made it!

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With a low tide of 0.9m at 4.00pm, participants were able to explore the intertidal shore and remove trash deposited by the tide. Marine life such as the carpet anemone was encountered by some. What a great reminder to us that the shore is teeming with life and that cleanups are crucial to keep the shore a habitable one for them.

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Keeping track of time, the participants began to weigh and transport the trash bags out after 90 minutes of cleanup. A total of 204kg in 29 trash bags were removed from the beach!

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At the end of the day, all of the participants left with a smiley face. Well done, RVRC! Thank you for protecting the marine environment and please continue to do so!

More photos and a video of the cleanup are available for viewing.

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The first year-round coastal cleanup of 2016 @ Sungei Pandan Mangrove, by NUS BES students [08 Jan 2016]

IMG_6265.jpgThe first mangrove cleanup conducted this year was conducted at the Sungei Pandan Mangrove (site SP2) on 08 Jan 2016 by the Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) Community Education/Engagement Branch (CEB) with the support of ICCS.

The BES team consisting of 23 undergraduates collected a total of 213.4kg of trash, with the most common items being plastic bags and wrappers (~300 pieces), plastic bottles (~150 pieces) and expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) pieces (~100 pieces).

Styrofoam pieces ranged from smaller pieces (1cm x 1cm) to take-out food containers and even larger packaging pieces (1m x 50cm). Drinking straws and “lollipop sticks” were also abundant.

Unexpected items were helmets, buckets and even a fishing trap. On the bright side, no lost or discarded fishing gear (fishing rope, line or net) was present, other than the single fishing trap.

The cleanup was a success with larger pieces of trash removed from the mangroves. However, due to manpower and time constraints, we could not remove all the visible trash from the site, and could see that a number of plastic bottles, bags and wrappers remained. Some of these were trapped in between the roots and branches, reducing their accessibility.

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Mangroves are an important ecosystem we want to protect and conserve, for the ecosystem services they provide and for the wildlife that call it home. We hope to return to continue the battle against marine trash at this precious site in our neighbourhood!

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On behalf of the BES CEB team, we would like to thank ICCS Singapore (Coordinator Sivasothi and South Zone Captain Mr Lim Cheng Puay) for their advice, time and expertise during the planning phase as well as logistical support during the actual event.

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By: Ang Hui Hao, NUS BES

Congratulations to the NUS BES students! Thank you for contributing to the marine environment. 

SAJS kick off their “Values in Action” program with a coastal cleanup at Pandan Mangrove! (26 Nov 2015)

Staff of St. Andrew’s Junior School kicked off their “Values in Action” program with a sharing session by N. Sivasothi aka Otterman at the school and then travelled to the west for a coastal cleanup at Pandan Mangrove on 26 Nov 2015:

  • 1300h – Lunch @ School Canteen @ Potong Pasir
  • 1400h – Introduction and Video Session @ Thinkubator
  • 1445h – Depart for Ulu Pandan from the Carpark
  • 1530h – Start of Pandan Mangrove Cleanup
  • 1700h – Coastal cleanup ends and staff wash up
  • 1715h –  All depart for Staff D & D @ Civil Service Club Tessensohn

the very efficient Vice Principal Thomas Tan messaged me after the cleanup to say it was a wonderful, engaging experience, with the staff talking about it for days after the event. He hopes to keep the flame burning with positive action thereafter, in daily life!

See all the photos on Flickr.

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