Jul 24, 2006

Chek Jawa Coastal Clean-up 2006!!

Saturday morning 22 July dawned bright and sunny. By noon, dark clouds started to gather over the east of Singapore. Though we said that we would continue with the coastal clean-up today regardless of rain or shine, was crossing my fingers hard and hoping there would be no lightning later on....

Chek Jawa is like a little tradition for BWV. It started in 2002, when Siva asked if I was interested in doing a clean-up there. Since returning Youth Expedition Project members needed to do a local community project post trip, and I had just concluded a reef survey expedition to Sabah (BLE1), I thought,"Why not?". From 10 volunteers and 200kg of trash, it has grown into a bigger event, with Jani organising a major activity in 2004 involving 68 volunteers, collecting a total of 1.6 TONNES of trash! Why marine litter? Left alone, non-biodegradables accumulate over time, causing untold harm to the marine environment!

This year, 35 members of the public stepped forward to help the Chek Jawa mangroves get rid of a scourge that doesn't seem to go away. Jani took a team to the back mangroves of the visitor area, while Grace and Mingsheng handled the long stretch of shore next to House No. 1. And of course, we had the tireless How Choon Beng and other members of the NParks Ubin team to help with logistics, transport, and the hands-on action itself.

How did we do this year??

Summary of trash items collected

Guess what's the most common trash item on Chek Jawa?

Thankfully, the weather held out all the way; by 2pm we had cloudy skies with occasional spots of sun, which was just perfect for a clean-up session- not too sweltering. The volunteers were raring to go, and after a short briefing in the container office next to House No.1, everyone took their gloves, made-on-the-spot writing boards, datacards, and trash bags, filed out and speedily proceeded to their clean-up section.

Mingsheng briefing his group before starting work

For Groups 2 and 3, it was the first time we had done a clean-up in this area, and the amount of trash found was pretty amazing.

Someone left his entire campsite intact

Plastic bags are found even on the trees

The sheer amount of plastics was just too overwhelming to count as they were coming in, so we piled everything on the upper shore to be counted later.

Look! I have more!

One hundred and one, one hundred and two.....

Over at Section 1, we thought that since we've been clearing that area for 3 years, most of the larger debris would have been taken out, but Jani's group still managed to find some odd things- like a fire extinguisher!

Group 1's loot
Hard at work in the mangroves

One and a half hours later, the tide was coming in, but the volunteers were still out trying to get the last pieces of abandoned nets and ropes out from the tangle of the mangrove roots.

One more rope!

Group 3 braving the ants on the ground

Some people find picking trash especially enjoyable!

Even a friendly local 'fishmonger' came to help

One volunteer commented that "we really generate a lot of trash!" after seeing the mountains of plastic and whatnot massed up on the shore.

Still counting plastic bags...

Group 2's loot

After bagging all the litter, the work was not done yet. We still had to weigh all the trash we collected.

It worked out to be a total of 882.8KG!!!

THANKS EVERYONE, for all your hard work!!
You've each made a BIG difference to the marine flora and fauna of Chek Jawa.

Let's hope we leave Chek Jawa a much better place, and that these numbers will decrease over time. More than only cleaning up our shores, we can reduce the amount of non-biodegradables in the environment by NOT littering, and encouraging friends and family to do the same.

On a another note, Singaporeans produce 1kg of trash per person per day! That's staggering! It means 4.8million kg of trash everyday! Where do we find the space to put it all?? Unless we want to keep converting our seas into landfills, the alternatives are pretty simple- cut down on excessive packinging in our lives and ask corporations to do the same, re-use as much as we can or choose biodegradable options, recycle as much as you can, and informing the people around you of these options! One person is enough to make a difference!

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