8 Dec 2020

Students Stunned by Amount of Waste on Beaches

At a beach clean-up, on the 5th December, Global Perspectives IGCSE students and volunteers were stunned by the amount of waste. The beach cleanup in Discovery Bay was organised by environmental charity Plastic Free Seas.

Students Sam Hui (11W), Aleen Khaimson (10E), Fernando Roldan Campos (10W), and Tiffany Teh (10E) were joined by Plastic Free Seas Operations Director Ms Dana Winograd and other volunteers in a quest to reduce plastic waste in Sam Pak Wan. Working in groups of 2, the students learnt about the causes of plastic pollution and saw firsthand the devastating effects it can have on the local environment. A wide range of waste was collected in the activity, such as microplastics, polystyrene, plastic bottles, and glass fragments. The volunteers were stunned by the amount of waste they collected, as the beaches should not be getting as much waste this time in the year due to wind direction.

Sam said that he hoped their clean-up day might inspire more people to take action to protect the Earth’s fragile environment.

“I was glad that I joined this meaningful activity” said Sam. “It was really motivating to see so many of us taking part and contributing to such a significant cause. Knowing that our actions have changed the Earth for the better really excites me. To be honest, I was shocked by the extent of the problem. Despite being cleaned often, many of the waste seemed to be rooted deeply in the environment, such as entwined ropes and plastic bags which took us some time to remove. There was also a great deal of micro and macro plastic waste scattered along the shoreline. I’ve learnt a lot from this experience and have realised how our plastic consumption behaviour is directly impacting the future of our planet.”

Aleen Khaimson (10E) recalled, “At first when we got to the beach it seemed very very clean and we didn’t understand what we were supposed to do. But as soon as we started going into the bushes and sifting the sand we saw all of the microplastics, and styrofoam hidden in the most unexpected places and it really shocked us. It was an amazing experience and we ended up learning a lot and seeing how much of an impact we really have on plastic pollution.”

“The main goal of the beach cleanups we run at Plastic Free Seas is to educate and raise awareness about the problems caused by​ single-use plastic. We use so much plastic each day and it isn’t easy to stop using all of it, for example, the packaging of a bag of pasta, so we need to say no to those we can ​more easily refuse​, or bring our own reusable alternative such as shopping bags and takeaway containers, to minimise our use of single-use plastic. We can also choose the items that have less packaging over those with more packaging whenever possible. For example, don’t buy the multi-packs of items as they are usually bundled together with unnecessary plastic,” said Ms Dana Winograd, Operations Director of Plastic Free Seas.

If you are interested to participate in potential external beach cleanups led by Plastic Free Seas and the Global Perspectives groups, please contact Mr Ross Burrough (ross.burrough@online.island.edu.hk). We will contact volunteers with more info upon admission. Space on the teams is limited, so early sign up is advised.