Celebrating the spirit of the Independents on World Water Day!

Independents are volunteers who sign up for coastal cleanups independently of any organisation. They are motivated individuals who turn up to help at coastal cleanups without fanfare, goodie bags, t-shirts or souvenirs. They are only promised hard work, team work and the satisfaction of helping the planet.

ICCS Zone Captains who work alongside them are always gladdened by the experience!

My first close encounter with Independents was in 2010 when we worked at the coastal cleanup at Pasir Ris 6. I enjoyed the experience so much that wrote about it! Each time since, it has been just as heartening and yesterday, at the World Water Day mangrove clean-up at Sungei Pandan, hardworking Independents brought me great joy and motivation once again!

11008582_949073361778168_5206495722068660987_o

Some Independents hard at work

The five friendly independents with me focused on the task as soon as we stepped into the mangrove. They took turns to record data and all ensured accuracy when categorising the trash. We steadily worked one area to the next, supporting each other. We had just met, but the high level of motivation about a common goal resulted in great effectiveness. 

Some of the great people in my team

Some of the great people in my team

With the right people, even data collation is fun!

With the right people, even data collation is fun!

Throughout the mangrove that afternoon, Independents worked with dedication and tirelessly until it was time to halt. The ICCS Otters were exchanging notes later in the night and were feeling glad to have met such individuals.

As Zone Captains, we work with many different people and groups. Some require more encouragement and support than others. Independents who show such great spirit, team work and effectiveness, motivate us to keep going with the task of coordination. ICCS Otters are in this for the long haul and many have kept working for over a decade – so it is important for us to work with such dedicated individuals.

To the Participants of World Water Day clean-up 2015, thank you for your enthusiasm and hard work. See you at the next cleanup!

2015 03 21 18 08 28

Celebrate World Water Day with a coastal cleanup at Pandan Mangrove, Sat 21 Mar 2015: 4.00pm!

In conjunction with World Water Day, volunteers with the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) will be conducting a cleanup at Sungei Pandan mangrove on Sat 21 March 2015: 4.00pm – 6.00pm.

Registration for the World Water Day mangrove cleanup has closed! 

Thank you to everyone who has signed up!

WWD poster6

What is World Water Day? World Water Day is a day designated by the United Nations to highlight the importance of water and to advocate sustainable management of water resources. Why cleanup? Humanity needs water and wetland habitats are an integral part of the water cycle on this planet. Wetlands habitats are especially precious in Singapore and trash causes adverse impacts to wildlife, releases harmful chemicals and are an unsightly presence we should not tolerate! Coastal cleanups are conducted by volunteers around the world to remove this trash, raise awareness of the plight of our oceans and waterways and motivate us to rethink our habits in daily urban living towards sustainable practises.

IMG_2087   IMG_2135IMG_2070   IMG_2063

Sungei Pandan Mangrove: Sungei Pandan is a small but precious mangrove located in south-western Singapore at the mouth of the Sungei Pandan, and draining into the sea at West Coast. In order to protect this site, the annual ICCS was brought to Sungei Pandan mangrove in 2008 and the bulk of trash has been removed. However, there is still an annual recruitment of marine trash so year-round coastal cleanups like this World Water Day hope to address.

SP2 on Sg's mainland

Map of Sungei Pandan Mangrove in relation to Singapore. The site we will work on is Sungei Pandan 2 (SP2)

Screen shot 2015-03-16 at AM 10.37.12 IMG_2091

Volunteers will be picked up from Kent Ridge & Dover MRT bus stops and transported to this Jalan Buroh B25 bus stop which will be our briefing and trash disposal site.

Itinerary

15:30 – Bus pick up at (1) Dover MRT – on the side of Singapore Poly) and (2) Kent Ridge MRT – Opposite NUH) 16:00 – Arrive at Jalan Buroh B25 bus stop and unload all logistics from the buses. Organize everyone into groups of 4, apply insect repellant, collect gloves, trash bags, ICCS data cards, and other required logistics. 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) 16:30 – Cleanup begins 17:30 – Transportation of trash to TCP (next to Jalan Buroh B25) 18:00 – End of clean-up. Trash is weighed and discussion/ reflection time. 18:30 – Participants clean up. No toilets or other amenities nearby so participants must bring a small amount of water to wipe themselves down. 18:45 – Bus transports participants back from Jalan Buroh B25 to Dover and Kent Ridge MRT.

Map detailing the meeting points at Dover and Kent Ridge MRT:

Map detailing meeting points for World Water Day

Things to note

  1. Transport to Pandan Mangroves, gloves, trash bags and weighing scales will be provided.
  2. For those intending to drive, do note that there are not public parking facilities nearby.
  3. You must wear hard-soled covered shoes or booties to to protect your feet from hazards.
  4. A change of t-shirt is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  5. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites and mud, but bermudas are fine.
  6. Water-proof your belongings.

Things to bring:

  1. Water bottle (with at least one litre of water)
  2. Hat and/ or sun block
  3. Raincoat/ poncho (we will work in rain)
  4. Towel – wipe off sand and mud
  5. Extra water to wipe yourself down

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 SP2 for more information on the cleanup site.

Thank you for caring for our planet this World Water Day!

Sign up here by the 11th of March 2015 if you want to join us!

Singapore World Water Day

Recce for First Year Round Cleanup at Tanah Merah

In preparation for the very first year round cleanup at Tanah Merah on the 11 Feb 2012, Benjamin Tan and Ching Yu Hang, both volunteer Site Buddies from the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre together with ICCS Tanah Merah Zone Captain, Xu Weiting and ICCS Recce Captain, Andy Dinesh headed out to TM7 on the 29th Jan, Sun to have a look at the trash load that we will be cleaning up in two weeks’ time.

Photo of Benjamin (right at the front), Dinesh (centre) and Yu Hang (back) surveying the shore in front of the newly built Workers' Dormitory, which has a great sea view.

We were greeted by a relatively clean shoreline this time round. However, this depends on the currents and winds which might sometimes cause the trash to be accumulated in usually large amounts. Hence, in order to be prepared, a recce trip is highly essential for any planning of a shore cleanup.

This area would usually be covered up with trash! Now you can see the nice sandy beach!

Besides looking at the trash load, we also saw inhabitants of the beach. This gave me a timely reminder of the motivation behind cleanups held more regularly rather than only during the International Coastal Cleanup in September. Every cleanup effort is important in helping to remove the marine litter that has adverse impacts on marine organisms and habitats.

A soldier crab on the sandy shores, one of the many organisms that calls Tanah Merah its home.

However, as we proceeded along the long stretch of sandy shore, the clean image of Tanah Merah starting to vanish. Instead, we started to notice more trash stranded on the upper shores and along the vegetation edge. We definitely have work to do during the upcoming cleanup.

Discarded styrofoam boxes and bucket which might have been used previously by fishermen

Another important aspect about beach cleanups is safety. We encountered a single syringe on the TM7 shore and every year, we do get about 30 – 150 syringes per cleanup. In 2011, Singapore American School (SAS) found 33 syringes at their mangrove sites and this incident once again highlighted the importance of adhering to safety guidelines for every single cleanup, no matter how big or small.

Be safe & efficient! Be aware of your surroundings and always be careful of what you are picking up!

Below is another photo of the amount of trash (plastics, styrofoams and much more) awaiting for us to clear on the 11th Feb, Saturday. If you need more details of the cleanup, Site Buddy Gladys Chua has put out a blog post for any interested people.

With the start of the brand new year, let us not sit around and hope for the trash to vanish. Let’s take some action and do something about the marine litter found on our shores.

SOOOO CAN WE DO IT?