Turn the Tide on Trash

Wesley’s First Beach Clean-Up

This article was first published in Wesley TIDINGS, August 2019.

The sight of plastic bottle, cigarette butts and Styrofoam pieces littering the length of East Coast Park was what greeted the 29 volunteers participating in Wesley Methodist Church’s first beach clean-up project on 7 July 2019. 

The project by Wesley’s newly formed Created Care Committee was a small attempt at doing our part to protect and sustain God’s creations.

In the hours leading up to the clean-up, dark clouds hung overhead, an ominous threat of unwelcomed weather. But the sky unexpectedly cleared just as the group gathered near the designated stretch of beach at 3 pm. 

“This is a firm reflection of God’s grace that He wants us to clean the beach today,” exclaimed my mother, Su Chen, who had been looking at the skies for an indication of the weather while driving us to the activity.

A diverse of volunteers comprised the group that day – many were Creation Care committee members and others were from the Companions-in-Christ course under Discipleship and Nurture (D&N). The oldest volunteer is 68 while the youngest volunteer of the activity is just three years old!

The youngest three-year-old volunteer, Ely, and writer at clean-up beach activity

Endless Amount of Litter on East Coast Beach

Following a short briefing by our leaders Alvin Tay and Sharon Liew, each volunteer was assigned to a small group of three. Armed with a recycled rice sack and a pair of tongs each, the volunteers wandered out, covering a stretch of about one kilometre to pick up the endless amount of litter that lined the once spotless beach.

For two hours, the volunteers combed tirelessly through the foliage, grass and sand for anything that should not be there. Rice sacks filled up rapidly as individuals uncovered shocking amounts of trash. It was a team effort from which no one was exempt – even the three-year-old wielded a pair of tongs whilst picking bits of plastic out of the sand, finding contagious joy in a job many would no doubt consider tedious.

Pastors Joined In to Clean the Beach on a Sunday

As an encouraging show of support for creation care, Pastors Benjamin Lee and Gladwin Lee also led the way by joining in this collective activity under the hot sun, amid their busy Sunday afternoon schedules.

Trading their typical Sunday outfits of reverential pastoral robes for casual t-shirts and shorts, the pastors joined in to scour the shoreline for trash, doing their part for our planet.

The event ended with a nice cosy dinner fellowship by the sea. After spending two hours picking up trash to help protect nature, it was now time to revel in nature.  We watched the waves ripple gently against the tufty clouds while chomping down the satay and barbequed squid. 

Momentarily, we were able to escape from the many stresses of life. 

Momentarily – because when the tides began receding out to sea, the view was marred again by the sight of more plastic pieces and other trash that the earlier high tide had brought in.

This beach clean-up project was a first for me and it was an afternoon well-spent,” said my mother,  Su Chen.

Eye-Opening Experience

An afternoon of non-stop litter picking experience was exhausting, yet valuable and incredible eye-opening. We understood first-hand the problem of trash is an enormous and daunting issue. At the end of the afternoon, we had collected no less than 100 bags of trash which consisted mostly of plastic bottle.

Did you know that scientists have forecasted that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean? Due to the exponential overuse of plastic in recent decades, the presence of rubbish in our oceans has reached a seismic level. This unnatural phenomenon is surely the opposite of the world our Lord has created. Pristine white beaches, deep blue waters stretching far into the horizon, frothing waves crashing against the shore – this will be a view that may no longer exists in the future if the world’s trash problems continue at its current pace.

Turn the Tide on Trash

As stewards of God’s creation, we have a duty to, as far as possible, maintain the earth’s immaculate state and beauty, for the planet and every living creature in it is created by and belongs to God.

Even though a two-hour clean up beach project may hardly be impactful in solving a mounting global crisis, it represented an effort in caring for our environment and serving our community. Each of us can do our part to exercise care in reducing our trash, using less plastic, recycling waste materials and participating in environmental initiatives such as beach clean-up projects like this one.

Substantial change cannot be carried out by individuals. But our combined efforts could add up to make a difference to our environment.

Together, as a church and community, let’s turn the tide on trash.

Read also: Creation Care : What can You Do?

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