On a July weekend in 2016, Hong Kong beaches were flooded with tonnes of plastic rubbish that arrived overnight without warning.
Not content to sit among trash or simply go home, our members rallied and gathered friends to join in and complete massive cleanups on Cheung Sha, Pui O and Shek O beaches.
Every person who cleans a beach has their perception permanently altered.” Kinzie
We saw a lot of great work and collected lots of tips so we prepared this not-so-secret recipe so that Pop-up Cleanups will continue … naturally.
The Pop-up Cleanup recipe
This easy-to-follow recipe features basic ingredients and the method combines a little muscle with a lot of fun in the sun … or rain.
You can skip the gym, ignore the calories and feel good about nurturing friendships while making a difference.
* 1 filthy beach
* 2 or more friends
* bags, shoes and gloves
* hats, sunscreen and water
* camera and notebook for tagging
* Locate filthy beach
* Invite friends to join
* Take before photographs
* Put on hat, shoes and gloves
* Apply sunscreen and drink water
* Pick up trash carefully and place in bags
* Sort, count and photograph trash
* Remove to collection point
* Upload and tag pics
* Email authorities
* Repeat regularly
The change begins with addressing our own addiction this Plastic Free July.
As easy as it is to blame our neighbors to the north, much of the garbage comes from right here. We throw away 9 million plastic bottles in Hong Kong every single day. The amount of wasted oil in another form is mind blowing.
Once we start seeing the volume, we might start seeing the value. Imagine if plastic bottles were valued like aluminum cans in Hong Kong. We would never see another one lying around like money on the ground.
We also want to make sure we communicate the problem with those who can meet us at the other end, so here are a few ways you can communicate this situation as disaster and get the ball rolling for official relief.
2. Send photos by email with the location — every message will be be followed up
3. Call 1823 and leave a message.
4. Post your photos and comments in the Marine Lap Sap Facebook group
5. Join a local marine conservation group.
Tips from the experts
Our members on the front lines share their tips with us so we can share them with you.
Plastic Free Seas
Dana Winograd is founder of Plastic Free Seas, formed after the nurdle explosion of 2012 left Hong Kong beaches looking as though a winter storm had past through.
1. Wear closed-toe shoes (no flip flops or sandals.
2. Bring plenty of water in a reusable container(s).
3. Bring sunscreen and bug spray.
4. Wear light clothing. A hat is advisable.
5. Wear reusable gloves.
6. Be careful what you pick up. Don’t scoop with your hands.
7. Take breaks out of the sun and remember to drink water.
Access paths may be compromised. Children must be supervised at all times. Take extreme care when getting to and from the beach areas.
If you are cleaning on your own, leave the rubbish bags near a rubbish bin, or if there isn’t one, leave them above the high tide line and inform the 1823 government hotline of the location. You can recycle clean plastic bottles in good condition and drink cans but you need to take them to a recycling bin.
Here are some cleanup tips from Lisa Christensen founder of HK Cleanup, an organizer of managed, sponsored corporate cleanup events in Hong Kong.
– Wear gloves, a mask(if picking up polystyrene) and closed-toe shoes at all times
– Wear light clothing, a hat and sun block to protect you from the sun
– Bring lots of water in reusable, refillable bottles
– Make sure all children are supervised by an adult
– Work in teams
– Pick up dead animals or attempt to move an injured animal — call AFCD or rescue
– Pick up syringes, needles, glass, any sharp objects, condoms, tampons, waste materials, or anything that looks like it comes from a hospital. Mark the area with a ring of sticks or stones and notify the Beach Captain
– Clean in any flowing storm drain outlets.
– Pick up anything too heavy and/or natural items.
Here are just a few pictures of heroic efforts … and the work yet to be done.