Lim Chu Kang Beach recce for “Operation WE (coastal) Clean Up!”

25 Apr 2015 – In preparation for “Operation WE (coastal) Clean Up!,” an event in collaboration with the Public Hygiene Council (PHC), ICCS Zone Captain Adriane Lee and the ICCS-IKEA Intern headed down to Lim Chu Kang Beach for a recce.

IMG_7794 IMG_7795

The low tide (0.8m) revealed trash throughout the entire mudflat. From plastic jerrycans, food containers and water bottles to styrofoam plates, these polymers were a constant sight throughout the habitat, amidst twigs and roots of trees. New pieces of trash were floating in the water, brought in by the incoming tide.

IMG_7826

IMG_7809

The mudflat faces the Western Straits of Johor which see trash from numerous land-based sources deposited into rivers, as well as offshore fish farms. Accumulation of plastics and styrofoam in the habitat greatly impacts the biodiversity there, and devalues the beauty of a mangrove ecosystem.

IMG_7813 IMG_7817

IMG_7805 IMG_7799

In the photo on the right, ICCS Zone Captain Adriane Lee demonstrates the appropriate footwear – shin-high water booties, for participants, if they wish to wade into the mud.

Despite the depressing sight, Adriane and I were pleasantly surprised by a family of four smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) in the water. They seemed to be engaged in a territorial dispute with dogs at the Police Coast Guard jetty.

IMG_7802

Of the guard dogs and otters.

IMG_7820

Apart from otters, there were signs of Sand-bubbler crabs (Scopimera sp.), a rewarding sight and reminder of why we conduct our coastal cleanups.

While chatting with an uncle who works with the coastal fish farmers, we found out that the beach was regularly cleaned by NEA. Two days before we visited the place, a team of cleaners had filled three lorries worth of more than 200 trash bags each – all to be sent to the incineration plant. Being so regularly cleaned, the habitat remained trashy from the constant recruitment.

Our participants on Sunday have food for thought – the origin of all that pollution, and how they can play a role in curbing the recurring trash load. We look forward to meeting them, and here’s to a meaningful Sunday afternoon at Lim Chu Kang Beach!

Site Allocation Exercise 1 – allocating organisations to ICCS 2015 sites!

Fri 24 Apr 2015: 7.00pm @ NUS Life Sciences Seminar Room 1 [S2-04] – The International Coastal Cleanup Coordinators conducted the first Site Allocation Exercise in preparation for ICCS 2015, which is scheduled for 19 Sep 2015.

Despite it being the week before final exams our undergraduate Zone Captains as Joys Tan and Joleen Chan (Tanah Merah), Tan Chia Wu (Changi) and Sean Yap (Pulau Ubin) were there for this important meeting, which lasted until 10.00pm.

NE CN + IN

Left: Northeast Zone Captains – Ng Kai Scene and Yang Yi Yong
Right: Changi Zone Captain – Tan Chia Wu and ICCS Intern – Becky Lee

NW PU

Left: Northwest Zone Captains – Germaine Leng and Adriane Lee
Right: Pulau Ubin Zone Captains – Sean Yap, Sankar A. and Teo Kah Ming

SO TM

Left: South Zone Captains – Lim Cheng Puay and Maludin Mohammed
Right: Tanah Merah Zone Captains – Joleen Chan and Joys Tan

An email to ICCS 2014 Organisers was sent in April, and 33 schools and organisations have responded. We allocated these returning groups to various coastal and mangrove sites all around Singapore based on their choices. As sites filled up (e.g. Northeast and East Coast zones are almost fully filled), Zone Captains had to look to sites outside their zones to allocate organisations. We ensured each group had an appropriate site to work on for their participants.

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 12.00.58 pm

At the end of the evening, 1,542 volunteers from more than 30 organisations are registered for ICCS 2015. Public registration was opened the following Monday (27 Mar 2015), and Site Allocation Exercise II will be conducted at the end of May. We will have one more round of Site Allocation at the end of June, after which the ICCS team will focus on the Organiser’s Workshop, joint recces, and year-round coastal cleanups (YRCCs).

We look forward to working with our Organisers for ICCS 2015!

Operation WE (coastal) Clean Up @ Lim Chu Kang Beach!

“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, 3 May 2015: 4.00pm to 6.30pm.

Registration is closed, thank you to all that have registered!

2015-03-08 13.50.14

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

Why Cleanup? In Singapore, our coast lines host innumerable amounts of biodiversity. Trash present in these areas impact our wildlife adversely, releases toxic chemicals and devalues the natural beauty of the landscape. Coastal cleanups are conducted by volunteers around the world to remove this trash, raise awareness of the plight of our oceans, and motivate us to rethink our habits in daily urban living towards sustainable practises.

Lim Chu Kang Beach is located in the Northwest of Singapore, next to Lim Chu Kang Jetty. It faces the Western Straits of Johor which see trash from numerous land-based sources deposited into rivers, as well as offshore fish farms. The mangrove is an area where trash accumulates which impacts the life there.

2015-03-07 10.25.24 2015-03-07 10.24.302015-03-07 10.29.02 2015-03-07 10.28.522015-03-07 10.31.54

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

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 11.30.08 am

Itinerary 

15.30 – Bus pick up at bus stop outside Kranji MRT (Bus code: 45139)
16:00 – Arrive at the end of Lim Chu Kang Road, unload all logistics from the bus.
16:15 – Briefing and identification of Trash Collection Point (TCP). Brief of wet weather plans (which is to carry on unless there is a lighting threat). Organise everyone into groups of 4, apply insect repellant, collect gloves, trash bags, and other required logistics.
16:30 – Cleanup begins
18:00 – Transportation of trash to TCP.
18:15 – End of clean-up. Trash is weighed and discussion/ reflection time.
18:30 – Participants clean up. Note that there are no recreational facilities nearby.
18:45 – Bus will transport participants from cleanup site back to 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)
  2. Hat and/ or sun block
  3. Reusable raincoat/ poncho (we will work in rain)
  4. Towel to wipe off sand and mud

Be prepared:

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a decent lunch – it’s hard work!
  3. Be punctual – we are unable to wait for latecomers; tide waits for no one!
  4. Refer to this recce report of Lim Chu Kang Beach for more information on the cleanup site.

Thank you for caring for our planet!

Earth Day celebrations – 144 volunteers remove 1,500kg of trash @ Pasir Ris Beach 6

Earth Day Poster

18 Apr 2015 – 144 individuals from all over Singapore hit the beach at Pasir Ris 6 to commemorate Earth Day with a coastal cleanup. Over a 350m of beach, volunteers removed more than 1,500kg of rubbish in 210 bags of trash! Good job folks!

The 144 volunteers comprised of Independents, schools and organisations. We were glad to see many familiar faces from our World Water Day Cleanup in March – Chee On, Liz and Petra are motivated individuals that regularly volunteer during our coastal cleanups! Quyen from our Chinese New Year Coastal Cleanup was another familiar face. The schools were American Centre for Education (ACE) led by Vernessa Chuah, Yuhua Secondary School led by Nicol Ee, and ACS Independent led by Timothy.

IMG_7591

Thanks to ICCS Photo Captain Kenneth Pinto for the photographs!

17006686710_683eec5bb4_k 17193612601_7b2fd25542_k

16986805517_fb861c8119_z

The trash was dispersed throughout the 350m beach but the majority had accumulated at the western end in a “river of plastic”. Many of the Independents ventured here to tirelessly work at removing plastic and aluminium bags.

17168289596_a1b01767dc_z

17008060279_5be50c19e6_k 17168272946_bdd42b2763_k

Determined individuals hard at work at the western end of the beach.

IMG_7612 IMG_7616

One of our youngest participants found a horseshoe crab trapped in a plastic bag and rescued it. Still moving, it made its way back into the water, hurray!

17193632781_cf203be483_z

17194209605_f375fd14c9_z

After the trash collection, we weighed all the bags and formed a human chain to transport the trash bags from the beach to the Trash Disposal Point. NParks had kindly arranged for disposal subsequently.

Pasir Ris Beach 6 is located at the edge of state land beyond Pasir Ris Park. Not a recreational beach, it is not regularly cleaned and large amounts of trash can build up at certain times of the year. Regular cleanups by volunteers have kept the trash load manageable but it was impossible for 144 volunteers to clear the entire burden of trash in a single afternoon. We are definitely examining that trash profile and heading back soon for another coastal cleanup.

It was lovely to see volunteers working hard on a Saturday afternoon to make the Pasir Ris 6 a more hospitable beach for the marine critters there!

Until the next cleanup, Happy Earth Day everyone!

The Earth Day Coastal Cleanup recce @ Pasir Ris Beach 6 – welcoming new volunteers!

12 Apr 2015 – NE Zone Captain Yi Yong and ICCS Intern Becky Lee welcomed four new ICCS Otters to our Earth Day recce at Pasir Ris Beach 6. These volunteers responded to the call for new volunteers issued in early March, and attended our our first meeting on 20 Mar 2015 to learn more about what we do in ICCS.

On the recce, they learnt about evaluating the trash load, identifying trash collection and disposal points and working out the risk and safety issues. It also gave us an opportunity focus to get to know each other better!

2015-04-12 10.10.02

Our new Otters! From left: Maludin (Deputy South Zone Captain), Elizabeth (Site Buddy), Hung (East Coast Zone Site Buddy), Fanghui (Site Buddy), with Yi Yong, our Northeast Zone Captain on the far right.

2015-04-12 10.09.49 2015-04-12 10.01.05

Everyone was shocked by the amount of accumulated plastic, especially on the far end of the beach and on the high strandline. As we walked the 350m stretch of beach, Yi Yong shared his experiences of working this beach over the years and talked about many layers of trash that was still buried underneath the sand we were walking on. During the monsoon, high tide bring in higher amounts of flotsam which is dominated by plastic, styrofoam, and wood with sharp protruding nails.

In recreational beaches such as East Coast Park, trash is cleared daily by NEA workers below the strand line and sometimes twice daily! Above the strand line in these parks, NParks has workers tending to the cleanliness of our beaches. This is the reason why Singaporeans enjoy clean beaches! However Pasir Ris Beach 6 lies beyond the Pasir Ris Park area, so trash accumulates. This affects beaches around the world, even seemingly pristine tourist destinations such as Phuket.

2015-04-12 10.23.59 2015-04-12 09.56.16

Amidst the trash of Pasir Ris Beach 6, marine life still persists. We were struck by the appearance of numerous horseshoe crab moults. These animals come form a line which has been present on the planet for more than 445 million years! Only four species are present worldwide and we are lucky to have two on our shores, the mangrove horseshoe crab (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) and the coastal horseshoe crab (Tachypleus gigas).

Seeing the moults on the beach are a reminder of the life our coastlines still do hold despite all that trash. This is an important part of our motivation for the cleanups – we want to make our shorelines a more habitable environment for marine life!

The recce not only familiarised our new volunteers with examples of local biodiversity, but the beach itself. This is an important part of an organiser’s preparation for conducting a coastal cleanup. On 18 Apr 2015, the Earth Day Coastal Cleanup was conducted with rousing success!

Thank you Maludin, Elizabeth, Fanghui and Hung for assisting the ICCS’ Earth Day operations, and we look forward to working with you all together as ICCS Otters!

The first ICCS Volunteers’ Meeting 2015 – encouraged by new and experienced volunteers!

Friday evening (20 Mar 2015) @ NUS Life Sciences Lab 7 – The International Coastal Cleanup Singapore coordinators held our first Volunteers’ Meeting of the year. Zone Captains welcomed 14 new enthusiastic volunteers, introduced themselves to them and spent the night discussing the structure of ICCS and potential roles volunteers could play within ICCS.

Although the big event on 19 Sep 2015 seems to be a long time away, coordination has to begin early as there are recees, access permissions to obtain, training workshops for Organisers and other duties to execute. Entirely volunteer-run, we put out a call for help in early March. Individuals who share a desire to rid our shorelines of harmful marine trash and educate individuals and groups responded.

ICCS Volunteer Briefing 2015
Sivasothi a.k.a. Otterman , who has been coordinating coastal cleanups since 1997, begins the session.

2015-03-20 20.00.14 2015-03-20 20.01.26
A vibrant atmosphere with meaningful conversation and determined spirits!

We were heartened by young Tamara Wise, who accompanied by her father, Jeremy was already engaged over the global issue of marine trash. She shared with us her motivation for joining ICCS and her frustration with water pollution – the impact of her teacher, Ms Gammon, was evident. Her desire for action illustrates the power of education in exposing and motivating young individuals about important issues.

Zhong Zhi from Geylang Methodist Secondary School is already organizing cleanups for his classmates at 15 years old! He discussed plans for a cleanup at East Coast Park, which he hopes to conduct after his exams. Meanwhile, he is joining us for Year-Round Coastal Cleanups to learn the ropes.

Volunteers Maludin, Li Choo and Madeline, who are already experienced participants or Organisers. They feel strongly about environmental issues and intend to take action. They would be invaluable in helping to coordinate the 24th year of International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore. Together with new ICCS volunteers Dada, Angel, Uttara, Xieheng, Hung, Chamila, Fanghui and Elizabeth, we hope they will reach out to many more communities and empower individuals to take ownership of the natural environment in Singapore!

Here’s to ICCS 2015!

TRASHED: Jeremy Irons explores beautiful destinations which have become landfills

TRASHED, a documentary that follows actor Jeremy Irons through once beautiful places – now converted into landfills, highlights the impact trash has not merely on the natural environment but also aspects such as human health and livelihood.

Stills from the documentary trailer, featuring highly polluted destinations:

Screen shot 2015-03-18 at PM 12.46.20 Screen shot 2015-03-18 at PM 12.45.31 Screen shot 2015-03-18 at PM 12.45.54 Screen shot 2015-03-18 at PM 12.47.20 Screen shot 2015-03-18 at PM 12.46.41

You can rent the film directly from the website for USD5.99 here: http://www.trashedfilm.com/purchase/
It is also available for rent or purchase on Vimeo and iTunes!