Joining the East Coast Beach Plan ☀️

Hey guys!

Today I finally got around joining the beach clean up in East Coast Park!

If you have been reading the news, there has been an insane amount of trash on our shores during monsoon season.

The government has ramped up cleaning efforts, but Singapore volunteers have stepped up too! Super heartening! 

I first heard of the East Coast Beach Plan through my friend Rachel! She and her friends and family have been going to the beach for cleanups. The initiative also has a hashtag #5forSG55 where the challenge is to pick up 5 bags of trash for Singapore's 55th birthday.

I was keen to join last week, but I only had the time to do so this morning. I'm so glad I made it down! :)

ECP Siglap Canal, 7.30am

What I wore:

  • Cap
  • Short sleeve shirt
  • Extra sleeves (my usual bike get-up, I'm in the sun a lot and I don't like my skin being scorched)
  • Long exercise tights (because I heard that people got sandfly bites!)
  • Covered shoes!!! 
Please wear shoes! Even though sand may get in, it really protects you from all the crap on the beach, including those with sharp edges or things that are just plain disgusting. 

What I brought:

I used my waist pouch that I have for rollerblading. 
  • old BBQ tongs
  • old cloth gloves
  • one regular black trash bag
  • one large white plastic bag
  • bottle of water
  • sunglasses (didn't use it)
  • hand sanitiser
  • insect repellent
  • tissue
I thought I would not be able to fill the large black rubbish bag I had, so I brought along a smaller white plastic bag. In my first thirty minutes I filled the white one though! Guess I wasn't being ambitious after all.

TBH I prefer the smaller bag because it had handles and was stronger than the black rubbish bag, which tears quite easily. 

Initially I delayed my session because I thought I did not have the regular trash bags at home, but then I read somewhere that it's better to use what you already have, rather than go and buy new bags. Thanks to this this nugget of wisdom I just used whatever I had at home! My mother also magically found some old black trash bags in the storeroom. 

I wore old cloth gloves, which tore by the end of my session. Will be switching over to old plastic gloves that my mum uses for the toilet. Make sure to get thick gloves! I think the surgical or plastic ones are kind of thin and will eventually tear. Gloves are super useful when you need to pull crap out of the beach. Strings, plastic bags tend to get embedded in the beach and it takes some effort to dig them out. A little like treasure hunting haha!

My efforts after 1.5-2h! 

What I collected:

  • plastic bottles
  • plastic cups
  • packet water 
  • plastic toys
  • bait
  • masks
  • lots of string, rafia
  • plastic bags
  • sacks
  • indomie, instant noodle packaging
  • more food and drink packaging (chocolate wafers, cookies, ice cream)
  • watermelon rinds
  • orange peels
  • bits of styrofoam and plastic
  • straws
  • cigarette butts
  • yellow toothbrush (I laughed)
  • detergent packets
  • sanitary pad packaging
  • shoes and slippers
  • beauty sheet mask packaging
  • diaper
It was fun to pick trash as I get a glimpse of life elsewhere. You get to see lots of different food labels.  As someone who is curious (more like kaypoh) and who loves to browse supermarkets in both Singapore and overseas, this was super interesting to me! 

I followed tips shared on the group and went as close as to the tide first, in case I could not access it later in high tide. You can also check the weather and tide beforehand, especially if you live further from ECP.

Of course, please tie up your trash bags when you're done

Interesting things others have found during their sessions:
  1. Play Station 1
  2. Dead piglet
  3. Dead turtle
  4. Syringes (yikes)
  5. Pillow

  • Though there's a lot of trash, I find this monsoon to be a blessing in disguise because it gives us a chance to reach and clear these rubbish that are usually not accessible! 

  • I feel really humbled. You can pick trash for the whole morning and there will still be a whole stretch full of litter.

  • Every small piece of rubbish I pick up, I feel thankful because it will no longer be in the sea. I feel useful! Haha. This thought kept me going - it can be very overwhelming to face a beach full of trash. You may feel a bit defeated so it's important to stay positive!

    The story where a boy saves the starfish by throwing them into the sea one by one really came to mind. The old man told him, " I'm afraid you won't make much of a difference", and the boy replied, " But I can save this one...this one... and this one!"

    Though we may not make HUGE progress overnight, little incremental efforts help! (Read: Atomic Habits - we only need to be 1% better than yesterday.)
An after photo - at first I was thinking: did I really clean this or did the tide wash everything away again? Then I spotted the yellow marking so I used that as a gauge! Seems like I really cleaned it up a bit!

When I told my parents that I was waking up early to go pick trash, I thought they would laugh at me. To my surprise they were really supportive and thought it was a good idea! Haha!! My mum even offered me her old gloves.

I was lucky to encounter nice weather as well! It wasn't too sunny in the early morning. I could feel the 'flow' while working too. It's nice to pick trash and 'feel thanked' by the sea, with its waves lapping behind you. 

If you enjoy decluttering like me, you may enjoy beach clean ups. LOL! It is super satisfying but also overwhelming since the work never really ends. 

One curious auntie came to ask me what I was picking, and I told her I was picking trash. She said, 很好, very good." Lmao maybe she thought I was collecting something special LOL since I was using the white plastic bag. I was very amused.

At the end of my sesh I checked the Telegram group and went to say hi to the other volunteers at the other side of the canal. Got to meet a very friendly Sam  (@sammthian), the organiser of this great initiative, and another lady called Anthea! Nice to meet you guys :) This effort has been around since July I think? Mad respect! And thank you to all volunteers, it's such a great community! Everyone has rallied around the cause! Kind strangers leave useful equipment for others and share tips and info for a more efficient movement. It's wonderful! 

Yeah, initially it felt a little strange going to clean the beach by myself (everyone I asked had to work). You may attract some eyeballs, but lol the satisfaction of a clean beach is unbeatable. Also, my thick skin always comes in handy. Don't be afraid to stand out and help! :) I'll be heading back to the beach soon, will update if I find anything strange! 

Don't forget, it doesn't take much to help, you just need to show up! :) 

If not, just reduce and reuse please!


Resources for you:

(They also have a Telegram bot! How cool)

Hashtags on IG: #5forSG55 #eastcoastbeachplan