PENANG, 29 September 2018 - 60 students from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) recently volunteered as part of a group for a beach clean-up project, held at Pantai Sungai Batu in Teluk Kumbar, Penang
The students, who joined in the project along with the secretariat of the project, belonged to the RCE Sejahtera Youth student organisation. The project was part of a global community movement because International beach Clean Up is simultaneously conducted by communities around the world on the same date. RCE Sejahtera Youth technically participated in a local and global effort to improve of our beaches and coastlines. Through this programme, the community can participate and get exposure on waste management and environmental protection.
Held in collaboration with Reef Check Malaysia, those involved were tasked to collect, segregate and record the amount of rubbish collected through the Clean Swell apps on everyone’s device. The volunteers were given a short brief on the project before the programme started. They were then put into four zones with a certain parameter along the coastline to collect rubbish strewn there to maximise the time spent.
The local community was interviewed, in addition to some of the volunteers, on their level of awareness of this problem. There were also brainstorming sessions and discussions done to obtain views and suggestions from the team of every zone on the type of rubbish found, methods to curb this problem and ways to increase the level of awareness to people in reducing waste, as well as on how to start practicing a more sustainable way of living.
A member from each zone presented their findings to share the information with members from other zones. This allowed them to polish their skills in communication and leadership. As the programme reached the end, a number of new information were gathered and exchanged amongst them and new ideas were generated on how to lead a sustainable life.
The most collected items was plastic bags – 1775 of them, to be exact. We also found 616 cigarette butts, which easily find their way into the ocean, 19 for fishing gears, 11 toys, 220 food wrappers, 70 plastic containers, 47 foam containers, 18 beverage cans, 34 plastic bottle caps, 180 plastic bottles, 13 glass bottles, 4 cups and plates, 160 straws, 18 for utensils, 121 plastic/foam pieces, 51 for other packaging and 336 for other types of trash. The least collected item found was 1 diaper that categorized into personal hygiene. Total weight of rubbish were collected was 60.15 kg.
This project has helped in increasing awareness of the public on the need to protect and preserve our natural environment. It encourages more people to be involved in activities concerning environmental upkeep and most importantly to promote awareness on the problems that are caused by rubbish thrown indiscriminately on the beaches.
Basically, this project was implemented not only to collect and segregate the recyclable and non-recyclable items, but also to join hands with volunteers and the local community so that they can witness firsthand the amount of waste being produced and thrown, hence leading to a greater realisation and understanding on the need to care for the future of mankind, the flora and fauna. Animals that live in oceans, more so, are seriously affected by the reckless throwing of rubbish, especially those that flow out into the seas, such as plastic bags and straws.