Go clean a beach

Nissa Marion thinks its time to get stuck in.

The state of Hong Kong's shores
The state of Hong Kong’s shores

Hong Kongers have expressed frustration with the copious amounts of plastic and trash washing up on our shores. I would like to offer one solution. Go clean up.

I’m not suggesting that volunteer cleanups are the answer – of course going down to the beach and collecting trash for an afternoon doesn’t address the root of the issue. Or does it? Through my work at the Hong Kong Cleanup (HKC), I’ve witnessed hundreds of people undergo the ‘light bulb moment’ – as I did on my first beach cleanup many years ago. And it always starts at cleanups.

Reading about ‘waste issues’ in the newspaper or social media is one thing. Getting out to a country park or beach, rolling up your sleeves and recording data on what you’re finding is where the penny really drops. Comments like “I’m never using a plastic straw again” are commonly heard at cleanups for good reason.

I urge every able-bodied Hong Konger to sign up with friends, colleagues and classmates for our annual HKC Challenge (Sept 1-Dec 1). You’ll have a fun, fulfilling day out together. Your efforts will remove harmful plastic and debris from a natural ecosystem. But most vitally and enduringly, you will help to collect data and get face-to-face with the problem.

Every single community cleanup counts. Even if you select a site that isn’t knee-deep in debris, every volunteer data card is a piece in the puzzle; it will help us to develop a better understanding of the scope and distribution of the problem. And that will lead to smarter, more informed solutions.

 

It’s about taking a stand. Sure, it’s not just about our individual actions; government and companies have a huge role to play in the reduction game. But let’s not wait for “someone else” to do “something”. The HKC gives local communities, schools and businesses an opportunity to participate in a large-scale positive initiative and is a hands-on educational experience. The more people who take part, the better our chance of affecting widespread change in individual behaviour.

Visit hkcleanup.org to sign up. Thank you – and see you out there this Autumn.

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