Stop Littering! – A Volunteer’s Account at the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Some 20 volunteers from the Marine Life Park (MLP) participated in the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) on 29 September. An annual event conducted in about 100 countries around the world, the programme aims to reduce debris in waterways and enhance aquatic environments. This meaningful programme is coordinated by The Ocean Conservancy, a US-based non-profit organisation.

Below is a first-hand account from Ms Adelina Kamarulzaman, one of the participants at the half-day event.

“Stop littering!” – This was the first statement I wanted to shout out loud after cleaning the Pasir Ris Beach coastal area with some fellow volunteers.

It was my first time volunteering for ICCS 2012 and I was pretty much looking forward to it. Even my husband volunteered to join me on that humid Saturday afternoon. I may not be a big fan of picking up trash, but I was excited to learn more about the dire effects our daily rubbish has on the environment, and in particular, our oceans.

After a briefing session, we broke up into groups of three and marched towards the coastal area. One person from each team was assigned to keep track of all the rubbish collected by recording the details on a data card.

I didn’t expect much rubbish from a small coastal area but I was wrong. We saw lots of plastic bags, plastic wraps, straws and strings. They were buried in the sand, and we had to dig deep to pull them out. As we started removing hundreds of plastic bags I began to understand the importance of using biodegradable items and decreasing my usage of plastic bags.

I unintentionally killed a small crab when I pulled out a plastic bag buried deep in the sand.  It must have been stuck in the bag, and died when I pulled it out. My mood went downhill from then on. However, I realised this was because I took for granted that there isn’t anything alive amongst the rubbish. It was a poignant wake up call for me.

As we walked down the coast, we also found fishing nets and fishing lines entangled with seaweed, which could potentially harm marine animals. Despite all the rubbish around the coastline, it was heartening to see volunteers helping to clear them up.

Will I be volunteering for another coastal cleanup? Yes, but one thing’s for sure: I will never ever take any kind of litter lightly again.

For more information about our conservation efforts, check out Guardians of the S.E.A.A.

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