Wednesday, September 05, 2007

International Coastal Cleanup for a Cleaner Beach

THE beach often ranks high among Malaysians’ favoured retreats for an idyllic break. Nothing is more tempting than the blue sea and cool breeze away from the stressful city life.

Yet more often than not, we tend to take our tropical paradises for granted such as trash left behind after a picnic or rubbish along the beaches.

Making it a better place: Foong and Mohamed Kadri holding up the data detective form which would be distributed to the volunteers for them to record whatever trash and debris collected.
However help is here in the name of International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), an annual campaign that’s dedicated to cleaning up beaches in all around the world.

Every year, on a weekend in September, thousands of people gather at beaches, lakes and rivers at their respective countries and demonstrate their commitment to making the planet a better place.

Held since 1986, the ICC is one of the largest volunteer events for marine environment to take place.

On this day, volunteers of all ages will gather to remove trash and debris for a cleaner environment. But the campaign is not confined to international beaches as the ICC is making waves locally too, through Malaysia’s own version of the initiative organised annually by eco-brand The Body Shop since 1992, and with the support of The Coca-Cola Company here since 2005.

Rampai Niaga Sdn Bhd (the franchise holder of The Body Shop) managing director Datin Mina Foong said the ICC was more than just mere coastal cleanup.

“Through this annual campaign, we believe we are leaving behind a legacy of committed people,” Foong said during a media interview about this year’s upcoming event at her shop in Bangsar Shopping Centre.

“This event focuses on pollution prevention and educating and empowering people to become part of the marine debris solution. We hope to change people’s behaviour over time because civic-mindedness and consciousness is not something you can instil in people overnight,” she said.

One of the interesting elements of the ICC was that whatever trash collected would be recorded by volunteers, all of which would then be compiled and sent to The Ocean Conservancy for analysis.

The data gathered would provide an insight into the causes and sources of marine debris, and serves as a means of educating the public on prevention methods.

“Last year alone, we had about 504 volunteers cleaning up the beach in Port Dickson. I’m excited about this year’s effort as we hope to break the participation record,” she said.

This year’s cleanup would be at Batu Ferringhi Penang on Sept 9 (Sun). It involves a 2.1km shoreline that starts outside the Parkroyal Hotel.

This year they will be working with the Penang Municipality in an effort to rope in the local authority to spread the message of proper dumping at appropriate places.

”Just last year, 67% of the 1,500 kg trash we collected were from land-based activities like festivals, picnics, and water sports,” said Foong.

Coca-Cola Malaysia public affairs and communications director Mohamed Kadri Mohamed Taib said the company had, globally, been a partner of the ICC for the last 12 consecutive years as part of its Global Water Stewardship programme that committed to preserving and protecting water resources.

“Rubbish is something we can’t stop collecting, and habits are things we can’t change overnight. But we want to open the eyes of our people, be it vendors or hawkers, who are often pretty surprised by a group of people who have nothing better to do, coming together to clean up a beach they don’t own! “he said.

Those interested to join in for a day of good cause and fun can obtain registration forms at any The Body Shop outlets. Registration fee is RM70 (which covers return transportation by coach from KL Sentral to Penang, shared accommodation at a hotel, a T-shirt, a breakfast and lunch and drinks).

Volunteers from Penang need to only pay RM10.

For details, call 03-5632 4313 (Cindy/Yvonne).

Source : STAR
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