Friday, September 21, 2012

Coastal Clean Up in Singapore and Beyond!

Trash bags from the event! 
On September 8, students from our school, SAS, as well as from the National University of Singapore teamed up to help save some coastal land. It was an interesting (if not absolutely enlightening) experience. I had no idea what we were in for. Honestly, I presumed that we would be cleaning up trash on a nice sandy beach, doing our work slowly and appreciating the beauty around us. Instead, we ended up at a wooded mangrove full of mosquitos, crabs, and trash. Lots and lots of trash, ranging from plastic bags (these were the most!) to clothing, oil barrels. Name one item and we guarantee it was under some branches, wrapped around some gnarled roots, and would eventually suffocate a poor, defenseless animal in the sea.
It was heartbreaking to see how much trash flooded the mangroves. At first, the task seemed impossible. In teams of three to four, we kept record of the items we threw into our trash bags and dug up bag after bag after bag, pulled fishing nets from the roots, and cut oil barrels free from the hardened mud.

With the aid of 150 people, we picked up a total of 2.3 tons of trash, within 4 hours. I thought that was an incredible feat. We had succeeded in making the ocean a cleaner, safer place, for that day. The very next day new debris would land on the coast, so the job is never complete. 

For pictures of the event see

An infographic by the Ocean Conservancy:
The Marine Life threatened by Coastal Debris
An event organized by the Ocean Conservancy, several countries worldwide participated. A week later, on September 16, 2012, California performed a similar coastal cleanup! With volunteers from over 850 locations, they managed to pick up over 290 tons of trash. Many volunteers claim to have found Japanese products that got washed away during the 2011 tsunami.

Just imagine, if every single country in the world had actively participated in the International Coastal Cleanup. I really do wish one day the world can come together to perform such an important task. Just imagine the number of lives we’re saving, doing this one simple act. It doesn’t take much.

Keep thinking and acting green! 

Visit for intriguing infographics on the items collected worldwide.