Our recreational beaches only appear clean because of the armies of cleaners who start work well before sunrise. And it costs $1.4m a year to pay for this clean up! That's your and my tax dollars!
According to the Straits Times article, "from East Coast Park alone, more than 200 tonnes of litter are cleared every month".
Last year, a report for the 21 APEC economies reveals a conservative estimate of damage caused by marine litter to be US$1.265 billion. This is just the cost to fishing and boat industries. This does NOT include costs to wildlife, loss of tourism and lost capital development opportunities, like building a hotel or resort. It also does NOT include the clean-up bill.
During a recent walk at the Chek Jawa boardwalk, the Naked Hermit Crab guides took the opportunity to point out to the kids that rubbish doesn't magically disappear. Someone has to pick it up. So don't throw it irresponsibly in the first place!
There's enormous piles of rubbish in our parks:
Besides littering, irresponsible park users also vandalise and deface common use park facilities.
According to the Straits Times, "the decades-old littering issue has come to the fore in the last few years, partly owing to an expanding foreign workforce that brings with it different social habits. Almost one in three caught last year were foreigners."
Trash is not only ugly but also kills wildlife. Plastic especially chokes animals that mistake them for food, while small animals can get trapped in them. Plastic is forever and breaks down into increasingly smaller pieces, ending up in the food chain and eventually into us via our seafood.
A project by photographers shared images of albatross chicks that starved to death from being fed plastic litter by their parents. Even though the birds nest in very remote islands far from human civilisation.
Abandoned fishing lines and driftnets kill dugongs, sea turtles and birds. Even humans can be threatened by them.
What can one person do about this?
- Only throw litter into a proper bin. Trash dropped onto the floor eventually ends up in a drain that flows into a canal and finally into the sea, to wash back up on the shore with the next high tide.
- Bring litter back with you on trips to remote places. Bins in remote places may be raided by monkeys and wildlife which can choke or get ill eating our trash. And the trash 'escapes' into the wild too.
- Learn more about the issues: in Singapore and globally.
Understanding the cause of the littering problem is vital. Which is why the annual International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) effort is so important. ICCS is NOT just about picking up litter, but is about gathering data about littering problem.
From the ICCS 2009 results, 40% of the trash on recreational beaches come from shoreline and recreational activities.
Registration for ICCS 2010 starts in March.
Sign up with the ICCS mailing list or subscribe to the ICCS blog or twitter for updates.
Read the full article: "Litterbugs turn public parks into rubbish dumps" Amresh Gunasingham Straits Times 25 Jan 10 and on wildsingapore news.