Finding dozens of computer monitors on Tai Long Wan Beach (as they did last week) isn’t such a strange sight for volunteer trash cleaners. In the five years that Ecovision volunteers have participated in International Coastal Cleanup Day, they’ve found, among other items, washing machines, old refrigerators, plastic cutouts for shoes, thousands of water bottles and yes, the odd computer monitors. “Many times we’ve seen barges piled high with computer monitors,” says Lisa Christensen, founder and managing director of Ecovision, which initiated the local beach cleanup in 1999 along with Civic Exchange. “It’s obvious that they are dumping. It’s not an isolated case.” This year’s beach cleanup began on September 16th and will finish with a rousing finale on Saturday, October 21st. On that day, an expected 200 Ecovision volunteers (86 are already signed up) will board a boat at Causeway Bay and get off at Tai Long Wan where they’ll search for bottles, caps, plastic knives, newspapers, and other garbage. “The more trash we remove, the fewer deaths by plastic that turtles and other marine wildlife will have to endure,” says Christensen.” Rest assured that Hong Kong beachcombers won’t be all by their lonesome in their efforts to remove trash. Volunteers in an estimated 123 countries will be taking part on this day, collecting thousands of tons of trash, and in the process, collecting valuable data that will be provided to the Ocean Conservancy. These data can then be analyzed to find ways to protect beaches in the future and limit the amount of pollution. Since its inception in 1986, over five million volunteers in 123 countries have cleaned over 130,000 miles of shoreline. “It’s the largest volunteer effort on behalf of the marine coastal environment in the world,” says Christensen. Locally, those wishing to take part in this year’s cleanup are requested to sign up (details below) before meeting at the Noon Day Gun at 9:00am in Causeway Bay (the boat leaves at 9:30am sharp). Alternatively, volunteers can show up at Tai Long Wan beach at 11:30am, when a briefing by Ecovision representatives will begin. The actual cleanup will begin at noon and finish by 3pm. “We’ll divide people into groups of five and 10. We then send them out to get as much as trash as they can,” says Christensen. “People often fill up nearly 10 bags each. It becomes a competition.” That sense of competition will certainly be enhanced by the potential for local celebrities to be on hand (actress Maggie Q participated in 2004 and several models and local actresses are expected this year), and even more so by a picture competition sponsored by Kodak. “People can take pictures of obscure rubbish, and there will be an awards banquet afterwards,” says Christensen. Yet such a comprehensive beach cleanup doesn’t need to be restricted to one international day. Dozens of groups, including the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and various school groups, have already been doing cleanups on their own favorite beaches starting in September, and that enthusiasm is encouraged throughout October. Last year 1,286 volunteers from 29 local groups collected close to 18,000 pounds of trash across over 17 miles of shoreline. “If they want to clean up their own local beach, or a favorite one, all they have to do is let us know,” says Christensen. “We can supply volunteers with gloves, trash bags, data cards and we’ll let the FEHD know.” International volunteers last year collected 1.9 million plastic bottles, 1.6 million glass bottles and 551,000 fishing lines – that’s enough trash to circle the earth five times. Locally, it’s been determined that much of this waste isn’t coming from the shipping industry, fishermen or pleasure boaters, since it turns out they are actually among the most educated when it comes to waste. Instead, over 60 percent of debris collected last year was found to come from land-based recreational activities. With enough volunteers and enthusiasm, hopefully that situation can be reversed. Hit the beach on Oct 21. What They Found in 2005 ➔ Caps, lids (13,962) ➔ Cigarettes (10,035) ➔ Straws, stirrers (8,484) ➔ Wrappers, containers (7,398) ➔ Foam boxes (6,414) ➔ Plastic silverware (6,298) ➔ Plastic bottles (6,008) ➔ Strapping bands (5,788) ➔ Plastic sheets/tarps (3,552) ➔ Glass bottles (3,533) International Coastal Cleanup Day Schedule for Saturday, October 21: 9:30am: Meet at the Noon Day Gun in Causeway Bay to board the Jaspa’s boat for Tai Long Wan (optional), OR... 11:30am: Arrive at Tai Long Wan Check-In Station for briefing by Ecovision, where attendees will be split into teams and allocated to clean different areas. 12:00pm: Beach cleanup begins 15:00pm: Chill out The Details Provided: Transportation, refreshments, snacks on the boat and lunch on the beach, gloves, plastic bags (white for recyclables, black for non-recyclables), pencils, data cards and cameras for recording the obscure litter you are sure to find. Clothing: Wear something sensible. You’ll be cleaning the riverbed, terraces and rocky areas around the beach too. Wear strong, practical footwear Contact: Ecovision (2868-5585 or info@ecovisionasia . com), or email@example.com for registration.