Lim Chu Kang is an unprotected wetland area in the northwest of Singapore. It is home to a vast array of biodiversity, just like most of Singapore’s coastline. Unfortunately, trash and waste from the Johor Straits deposit in the mangroves here and negatively impacts the ecosystem. It was an amazing learning experience to take part in a Pre-National Day coastal cleanup at Lim Chu Kang, organised by the ICCS (International Coastal Cleanup Singapore).
Firstly we were provided with gloves and a garbage bag to collect the trash. We were instructed to fill the trash bag only halfway. Then, we were split into teams and briefed by our guides from NUS Toddycats led by Sivasothi N. for the safety guidelines.
They told us they had seen two Mangrove Pit Vipers (Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus)in a particular spot so we were not allowed there. (For a moment I wished I had brought my camera, then I reminded myself what I was truly here for! I have borrowed pictures for this blogpost – please see footnote for credits).
I was astounded by the amount and type of trash inside the mangroves.There were mainly styrofoam and plastic pieces, but other trash included plastic bottles, helmets, crates, chairs, cigarettes and slippers entangled or stuck on roots and leaves of the trees or under the mud. Despite sweating during the cleanup due to my full-sleeved attire and muddy boots I felt so motivated to pick up as much as I could in the little time we had.
One team even retrieved a television from the mangrove island and moved it across the water. The team said it was a great team building experience as they used a piece of wood to roll it to the other side.
After the exhausting yet fruitful cleanup session, we tied up the bags and carted them back to where we had the briefing session, so that they could be weighed. After that, we created a human ‘chain’ to pass them on to make a huge pile. Together, the entire team of about 90 people collected about half a tonne of trash! My friends and I couldn’t have felt more proud and happy.
I learnt many things from this event, including teamwork, care and perseverance. While collecting the trash in the muddy, slippery and somewhat dangerous conditions, we looked out for each other as well as well as advised each other on what trash to pick and where. We also had to work together to take the heavy bin bags out, and that taught me how to be patient and persevere through it!
I learnt to co-operate with everyone despite the fact that I was sweaty and tired! I had to push myself a bit to be more responsible by waking up early enough to travel by public transport as well as making sure I had packed all the necessary things to ensure a smooth experience at the cleanup. When it came to passing on the heavy garbage bags to make a pile, I almost felt like giving up because of fatigue. Despite this, I tried to stay in front of the line to help put the bags in a pile!
Most importantly the cleanup taught me the responsibility I have to the environment. I am now so much more aware of the need to recycle and reuse, because I have seen with my own eyes and touched with my own hands, the negative impact of waste on nature. I hope to be more mindful about conserving resources, not buying more than I need as well as disposing of trash properly. It’s the small things that make the change.
Thanks to NUS Toddycats, ICCS and LKCNHM for the photos used in this blogpost. Please see the full photo album here at Flickr.
If you would like to attend a coastal cleanup organised by the ICCS, do visit their website for more details.