The trash on our beaches can be overwhelming and tragic. But joining a clean up helps. Through participation, we can raise the awareness needed to bring about change.
Here are some ways to make the experience fun and meaningful:
1. Make friends
Hope is on the horizon for Hong Kong as people from all walks of life, young and old, come out regularly to clean up. We always encourage folk to apply what they learn on the beach by cutting single use plastic from their daily consumer habits.
2. Survey the trash
You name it, we’ve counted it: plastic bottles, straws, juice boxes, pens, fishing floats, plastic cutlery, lighters, shoes – all found on the beach. The interesting thing is that this is litter and in Hong Kong it is illegal to litter. The kids worked out that had the people been prosecuted for the cigarette butts they dropped, and which eventually found their way on to the beach, it would have added up to a whopping HK$3,178,500 in fines.
3. Make a rainbow
Beach clean ups can be tough for those not used to the outdoors. It’s hot and can be icky. Working in teams to pick up colours, and then arranging what you find and talking about it make for a more creative and rewarding experience.
We could just pick it up and put it in black plastic bags, but honestly, people have been doing that for years and for most people their efforts remain out of sight and out of mind. This trash was fished out of Aberdeen Harbour and arranged along the promenade for all to see. We all have to eat and drink, but why do we need to make so much trash? Make it a mission to give up any single use plastic item you pick up on your next clean up. Start the clean up by only picking up those items that you are in the habit of buying. Compare with your friends.
Sometimes the beach can seem clean, until you take off the top layer and sieve it. Then you will find just how many particles of plastic and polystyrene are in the sand. This is a good exercise to do with children who are learning about the food chain, but then how lucky were the older generation not to have to worry about this?
6. Rise to a challenge
You have discovered a large pile of broken down polystyrene a metre deep. The typhoon season is approaching and it will be blown back into the sea and into our food chain if it is not picked up. How much can you collect in an hour or two? Is it even possible to pick it up by hand? Can you invent a machine to help you?