ICCS, if you are wondering, is the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore and yes, Otterman is the boss! We were really excited to get to the muddy part and also cleanup our buddy, the mangrove:) However, personally, I didn’t think there would be much to clear. From the 3 mangroves we frequently visited, the rubbish were minimal. Yet, from otterman’s previous briefing with the site buddies and volunteers, we realised the extent of damage caused by our negligence and inconsideration. But for all we know, the rubbish may have been cleared frequently since the 3 mangroves were quite an attraction or we were just not observant enough to detect the clear plastic sheets and brown ropes camouflaged amongst the roots.
Despite 9 months with the mangroves, we haven’t been to the muddy areas and had no need for booties. Borg 1 volunteered to help me get a pair and happily, we took the newly bought pair and showed it to Otterman. Unexpectedly, Otterman laughed heartily, took the pair of ‘booties’ and showed it to the others. We then realised that our ‘booties’ weren’t exactly the type for mud, because it wasn’t meant to be dirtied! Instead, it was more suitable for going to the movies. Oh man! Worst of all, I was wearing my school shoes and I didn’t want to get them dirtied or my mum would kill me. Thus, we couldn’t go deep into the mud. 😦
Despite the embarassing start, both of us were excited to see Pandan mangrove. We took a trash bag (which had pictures on it) and trudged into the new terrain. We saw many familiar plants and immediately took notice of flowering and fruiting. We also saw new plants which we did not recognise, back to the guidebook! However, our wows soon became woahs as we shifted our sight to the muddy ground. When standing, we already caught sight of loads of bottles, plastic wrappers and straws. Imagine what we saw when we squatted down. We spent most of our time squatting because with every step we took, we had to squat to pick up rubbish. Thus, it was easier to remain waddling through the mangrove. Much of the rubbish especially sheets of plastic wrappers were wedged underneath layers of mud amongst the roots and we were told not to take them out so as to prevent possible damage to the plant. They had been there far too long and the plants had to stay artificial forever. That’s the extent of damage 1 plastic wrapper can cause to the plants.
People think that the world is at their disposal but hidding rubbish amongst the bushes is just a temporary and selfish way of getting rid of the rubbish. But it won’t be hidden forever, because the consequence of damaging the mangroves and killing our biodiversity will soon be far too obvious to be left unnoticed.
At the end of the back straining day, we managed to collect piles and piles of rubbish, 堆积如山 as I would say it in chinese. But deep down, all the volunteers knew that much of what would make another mountain of rubbish lay inside the mangroves. Furthermore, we did not clear the entire span of Pandan mangrove. However, we did our best and the borg felt really satisfied. After the cleanup, both of us used our Borg brains to collate the number of the different types of rubbish collected from all the data sheets.
It was an experience we will never forget and we will definitely drag other borg along next year.