Sunday, September 30, 2018

Beach clean-up at Cheung Chau's Tai Kwai Wan

Trying to give tender, living care to a dirty beach
 
The more willing hands to work at cleaning up the beach, the better!
 
A respectable haul after just a couple of hours' work
by eight pairs of willing hands :)
 
After a four month summer hiatus, I figured it was time to go clean a beach once more this weekend.  The original plan had to go back to work trying to add a dent to the piles of trash on Cheung Chau's regularly badly polluted Tung Wan Tsai (aka Coral Beach).  But close to two weeks after Severe Typhoon Mangkhut paid Hong Kong a visit (or, at least, very close call) and hit the island particularly hard, there was uncertainty over whether the trail leading from the built-up areas of Cheung Chau down to that beach as a result of trees having fallen down and other typhoon damage in the area.      
 
Given the choice of going to work on a supervised beach on the same side of the island as Tung Wan Tsai and another unsupervised beach on the other side of Cheung Chau from it, my group of eight volunteers decided to go check to see whether the latter could do with some loving care.  After seeing that the main beach at Tai Kwai Wan could indeed do with some cleaning up, we set to work on it for a couple of hours; over the course of which we found, gathered and bagged up quite a bit of trash.
 
Like at every beach I've been to for beach clean-up activities in Hong Kong (be they on Cheung Chau, Lamma or Lantau), a good percentage of rubbish found at Tai Kwai Wan's beach consisted of styrofoam and (other) plastic items.  While there, I also saw the too familiar sight of ghost nets as well as plastic sheets wrapped around tree branches, be they broken off or still attached to living trees.  In addition, I came across hundreds, maybe even thousands, of plastic microbeads -- which can be hard to differentiate from sand from a distance and are fiendishly hellish to separate from the grains of sand that they lie on.
 
Noticeably different though was how much smaller the chunks of styrofoam and plastic found at this particular beach were from those we usually find at Tung Wan Tsai.  One possible reason for this is that they're older/have had more time to further break up; a sure sign that this beach hasn't been cleaned much -- if at all -- in years.  Almost needless to say, this made my group's task more difficult -- and also more frustrating; with one needing to work harder to have the satisfaction of filling up a trash bag than when there are larger pieces and/or items to pick up and clear away!
 
Another factor that contributed to our task being on the demanding side was it getting on the hot side as we reached midday.  Seeing the pretty red face of one of our group members got me thinking we should halt our activities before the temperature peaked for the day!  On the plus side weather-wise: we all felt the kind of breeze that signals to us that summer may finally be coming to an end here in Hong Kong; and we all agreed that it was much better to work under the sun than in the rain that has been unleashed on so many days this super wet summer (that came, ironically enough, after an unusually dry spring)!      

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