One man's trash is another man's treasure - except, in this case, trash is just trash.
The real treasure is our island city, and helping to keep it clean is not only our duty as local and global citizens but also rewarding - literally!
For the month of September, a cool clean-up initiative by the People's Association (PA) PAssion WaVe (formerly known as Water-Venture) will reward you with a two-hour free kayak or stand-up paddle (SUP) board rental on weekdays from Wednesday to Friday.
In short, you'll get to paddle for free if you help to clean up our waterways.
Called "Rent-a-Craft, Pay-by-Trash", this plan is in line with International Coastal Cleanup Singapore's vision for a bluer and healthier ocean. Good hor, give you chance to do good and feel good!
Where to participate
"Rent-a-Craft, Pay-by-Trash" will be available at these six PAssion WaVe outlets:
- Bedok Reservoir
- East Coast**
- Jurong Lake Garden
- Marina Bay
- Pasir Ris*
*If you're interested in paddling at Sembawang or Pasir Ris, you will have to present a kayaking certificate.
**SUP is only available at the East Coast outlet (you would also need to present an SUP certificate).
How to log your clean-up efforts
Download the Ocean Swell app to submit the trash data - or scan the QR code after completing your timeslot - to contribute to environmental conservation and advocacy.
Registration opens every Monday of the week, so chop chop fastest fingers first! Bookings can be made here.
We spoke to Chua Gek Fong, Head, PAssion Wave @ Sembawang, who shared some fun facts about our waterways, and even tips and tricks for all the kayaking newbies!
Why the focus on our waterways?
As an island city, we all play an important role in keeping our waterways clean and healthy for future generations as well as the plants and animals that rely on them.
And we've had past events as well such as Project Blue Wave in 2014, an initiative to bring Singaporeans together and build a sense of ownership towards our environment through education on marine biodiversity and environmental conservation.
Jialat, always see rubbish floating on our waterways. Just how dirty are they?
After a heavy downpour, there can be significant marine litter that is indirectly brought into our waterways by sewage, waves or winds, from the trash that was not disposed of responsibly.
In addition, our sea outlets at East Coast, Sembawang and Pasir Ris do see an increase in overseas marine litter during the monsoon period.
The most common type of rubbish found includes plastics (straws, food wrapper, bottles, bags, styrofoam), metal cans and glass bottles. We have also seen an increase in disposable masks during the pandemic.
How much has this initiative grown through the years? Does PAssion WaVe have other plans that will benefit the environment?
This campaign actually started in 2018; the one-week campaign attracted about 15 participants, and in 2019, the participation rate increased to 46 participants.
In 2020, we expanded the outreach to all six PAssion Wave outlets through a month-long campaign during the weekdays (Wednesday to Friday) in September for our reservoir outlets and both weekdays and weekends for the sea outlets.
A total of 385 trash bags weighing more than 1,000kg were collected by 583 participants.
Following the success from 2020, we have extended this campaign in 2021 to all six outlets during the weekdays (Wednesday to Friday) in September.
While our goal is to collect as much trash as we can in the waterways, the focus of this initiative is really to educate members of the public about the importance of keeping our environment clean.
Hopefully, with our initiative, we can see a reduction in the trash in the waterways in time to come.
Participants can stay tuned to our Facebook for more information on our PAddle 'N' Klean Challenge at the end of the year.
The PAddle 'N' Klean Challenge is an annual campaign for enthusiastic eco-warriors to compete with like-minded participants in collecting the most trash for a chance to win prizes.
It's great that Singaporeans are still active even amid the endemic Covid-19 situation. Has there been an uptick in kayaking interest?
We have seen a surge in interest for our kayak rentals as well as our certification courses for kayaking and stand-up paddling. This could be attributed to flexible working hours during work from home.
In addition, as Singaporeans are unable to travel overseas, they have taken this opportunity to enjoy nature and learn a new skill.
What are some of the most fun aspects of kayaking and paddleboarding in Singapore?
For those visiting our sea outlets, they may explore the mangroves at Pasir Ris and Sembawang in our Mangrove Discovery Series.
In addition, participants can enjoy scenic urban skylines at our reservoir outlets at Bedok Reservoir, Marina Bay and Jurong Lake Gardens. If you are lucky, you may even spot Singapore's Insta-famous otter family.
Any tips for those new to the water?
Come prepared for the sun (or the rain) - put on your sports attire, wear covered shoes, and B.Y.O.B (Bring Your Own Bottle) in case you get thirsty.
This article was first published in Wonderwall.