Swinburne students clean up Santubong beach

GREEN DAY: Students work diligently to clear the beach of rubbish.

GREEN DAY: Students work diligently to clear the beach of rubbish.

KUCHING: Some 40 Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus students helped to clean Santubong Beach recently.

A press release Tuesday said the ‘Bagtastrophe’ campaign initiated by biotechnology undergraduate Angelica Fiona Tan aimed to reduce the use of plastic-based products.

The students cleared the beach of 18 large bags of rubbish with 1,526 discarded items.

The bulk of the rubbish was plastic-based — grocery bags, soft drink and water bottles, various food wrappers, polystyrene boxes and countless other forms of recyclable items — which were disposed of at rubbish bins in the area.

“By cleaning up the beach, we hope to see a shift in the public’s mindset on the use of plastic bags. Very simply, plastic bags pollute the environment because they are not biodegradable and take many, many years to break down,” said Tan.

“They also kill wildlife. Sea turtles, for example, mistake them for jellyfish and choke on them.”

She said everyone could and should contribute to the preservation of the ecosystem.

“Simple acts like recycling can make a huge difference. If everyone brings along a reusable bag when they shop, the estimated reduction in the use of plastic bags each day could be in the thousands in Kuching alone,” she said.

Tan said Santubong beach was chosen because of its relevance to tourism.

The ‘Bagtastrophe’ campaign started in early July and included a talk on plastics, an outreach activity for schools, and a ‘Plastic-Free Day’ event at a mall.

They were organised with the support of Swinburne Sarawak Biotechnology Club and Swinburne Sarawak Green Club.

The campaign was supported by Persatuan Go-Go-Green, and sponsored by the Swinburne Sarawak Student Council, John’s Pie, Syarikat U-Tech and CityONE Megamall.

Tan is a Bayer’s Young Environmental Envoy, a programme the global German healthcare and agriculture company organises in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme to develop young leaders and create environmental awareness.

The programme requires the 12 selected envoys in Malaysia to implement environmental projects which will be judged this month.

The two top-performing envoys will earn an all-expense paid trip to Germany in November to learn about trends and perspectives in environmental protection and sustainability.


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