August 16, 2014

Beach cleaning

Pin It

I'm currently staying at my summer home on the beautiful south side of Hong Kong Island, which puts me pretty close to Fergie.  When I pinged him about his plans for this weekend, I was thinking more along the lines of getting together for some wine and food.  Instead, he asked me if I would be interested in joining him to clean up Repulse Bay Beach.  Well, it's been a while since I last did some actual volunteer work, so I dragged my ass out of bed this morning to do some good...

The two dozen or so of us each got a pair of tongs, and most of us shared plastic bags between us.  Ever the antisocial loner - and not knowing anyone other than Fergie's family - I took a bag by myself and set off for the far end of the beach.

While I started by picking up the few obvious pieces such as half-empty beer cans and plastic cups, it was glaringly obvious that most of these have been picked up by the regular cleaners in their sweep.  So I moved closer to the water and focused on what was being washed up by the waves.

In all my years in Hong Kong, I can probably count the number of times I've been in the water with both hands.  When I first arrived, I was told by someone that Hong Kong didn't treat its sewage and simply dumps raw sewage into the sea.  That was a disgusting thought.  Although Hong Kong now treats sewage at a facility on Stonecutter's Island, a portion of raw sewage still gets dumped without treatment.  So no, I haven't really wanted to get into the water in a long time.

Walking along Repulse Bay Beach today, I came face to face with another reason for not going to the beach - garbage.  It wasn't just garbage being left behind by people going to the beach, but stuff coming from everywhere.  I didn't go into the water myself, but Fergie's family told me that there was plenty of it in the water, and at one point the kids were pinching their noses from the smell.  As for me... I saw syringes, enemas, plastic sticks and balls of all sizes, and bits of styrofoam.

I bent down and started picking up little bits and pieces with my tongs - focusing on the smaller bits.  I wish I had a shovel, because trying to squeeze little things between the tips of those tongs wasn't the easiest thing to do.  This was laborious, and it may seem really inefficient and not worth spending my time on tiny plastic balls or styrofoam pellets. But I persisted for the better part of the next hour.

You see, tiny bits of styrofoam or plastic may not look like much, but they are garbage nonetheless.  In fact, they are worse because they are often overlooked because of their size.  They end up floating around or being suspended, and because they are so small, it's possible that they get eaten by fish in the sea.  Even if the fish don't die from ingesting these things, I don't think any of us would like to eat fish that has eaten plastic or styrofoam.  So to me, it's just as important to rid our beaches and oceans of these small bits.

When our time was up, I realized that my bag actually carried a little bit of weight.  Sure, some of that may be sand, dead leaves and other organic matter, but at least I got rid of some stuff that I was sure others would ignore.  Next time Fergie organizes a beach cleaning, Imma bring my own shovel... and stick around a little longer.

I still had a little time before my lunch appointment - and I was thirsty and sweaty - so I decided to hydrate myself by grabbing some ice coffee at Pacific Coffee.  I chose not to pick up the bottled water that was sponsored for the event because I didn't want to create more waste for our landfills, so naturally I didn't want to get my coffee in a plastic cup, either.  I requested for the staff to serve me ice coffee in a mug, which left my server a little puzzled at first.  But when I went back to pick up the coffee, the supervisor thanked me for being environmentally friendly.  Well, I'm glad somebody knows what I was doing... and I hope that more people would follow suit.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map