Over 1,600kg of trash collected on Pulau Ubin in annual cleanup
Combing through a 50m stretch of Chek Jawa Wetlands on Pulau Ubin on Sept 15, Madam Sabariah Yacob was not expecting her group of three volunteers to fill up five trash bags worth of plastic and styrofoam so quickly.
Taking part in her first cleanup, the 52-year-old housewife was one of the few thousand volunteers who took to the beaches, waterways and coastlines across Singapore that morning to pick up trash and debris while collecting data on the items found.
This was part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), a global event initiated by US non-profit organisation Ocean Conservancy in 1986.
Singapore has been taking part in the ICC since 1992.
Senior Minister of State for Health and Transport Lam Pin Min was roped into a cleanup at East Coast Park, organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.
The results of that day's cleanups are still being collated, but on Pulau Ubin alone, more than 1,600kg of trash was collected by 234 people.
Madam Sabariah told TNP after the 11/2 hour cleanup at Chek Jawa: "I did not expect it to be so polluted. The beach looks clean, so I was thinking what is there to pick up?"
Volunteer Jo Tan, 41, said the cleanup organised by environmental group Little Green Men was an eye-opener for her and her children.
The teacher had been on several beach cleanups before, but she was shocked by the amount of trash her family of five - including her husband, her daughter, 15, and her sons, nine and six - helped pick up.
The 39-strong cleanup group that Mrs Tan was in collected a total of 34 bags of trash weighing 256kg.
Mrs Tan said: "When you start paying attention and you start picking up the litter, it is crazy...
"We did not manage to pick everything up because we had only an hour and a half, so it was really stunning."
Mr Tan Chia Wu, 27, who has been coordinating ICC Singapore at Pulau Ubin for three years, said the event is important because not every part of Singapore's shoreline is regularly cleared by cleaners and the annual cleanups help relieve the accumulation of trash.
The data collected is collated by Ocean Conservancy, which publishes a yearly report on the profile of marine trash around the world.