For the next three months, tens of thousands of caring Hong Kong citizens will sign up teams to participate in the 30th annual International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest effort to clean up our beaches, oceans and country parks. The Hong Kong Cleanup Challenge is proudly organised by Ecozine, and we couldn’t be more excited about this, our 16th season.
Locally, individuals, families, schools, NGOs and corporations can sign up a team to particpate in one of the world’s largest environmental events, and join hands with the community to make a differece.
As recently documented by global media, plastic bags, bottles, food wrappers, disposable packaging, pieces of clothing, shoes and other litter are plaguing our seas and shores, turning the once-pristine coastlines of Hong Kong into a wasteland.
Lisa Christensen, the event’s Founder, reckons enough is enough: “The amount of plastic in our natural ecosystems has to be seen to be believed. It is a horrendous and disturbing sight. Is this really what we want Hong Kong to be known for?”
Lisa launched the first local movement to clean up Hong Kong’s coastlines 16 years ago. Since that first cleanup day in 2000, the Hong Kong Cleanup has empowered more than 275,000 Hong Kong people to take part, in teams, scooping up more than 22 million kilograms of litter from hundreds of beaches and trails around Hong Kong, competing to see who can collect the most trash, build the largest team, and even find the weirdest item.
But the massive cleanup isn’t just about clawing back Hong Kong’s natural beauty. It’s also about raising awareness and changing behaviours, to prevent more plastic and other trash from washing into the sea. An estimated eight million tonnes of plastic already enters our oceans annually, wreaking economic havoc on fisheries and tourism, as well as harming marine life and human health.
“Millions of tonnes of plastic and other rubbish end up in our oceans every year – and Hong Kong is a contributor,” says Christensen. “If you look at the thousands of plastic bottles, bags and disposable food packaging washing up on Hong Kong’s beaches, it sadly illustrates society's lack of understanding of how our actions have impact. We are damaging our environment, our food chain and our health in ways that we have not even begun to understand. But each one of us has the power to turn that around. We can stop it at source, in our homes, schools, offices and on our beaches and country trails.”
What began as one woman’s desire to tackle the rising amount of litter on local beaches has since grown into a civic movement of over a quarter of a million residents of Hong Kong, from all walks of life. From company CEOs to celebrities, government workers and local fishermen, to schoolchildren and families: locals, expats, young and old have joined forces to reclaim their beaches and country trails.
Every piece of trash volunteers find will be tracked and included in an annual index of global marine debris. The data collected provides information that can inform policy solutions and identify target areas where preventative solutions can make the biggest difference. Participating in the Hong Kong Cleanup also raises awareness, and brings together people and organisations who care about the health of our planet.
All Hong Kong citizens are warmly invited to join hands with the community and sign up a team for this year’s Cleanup Challenge, on now through December 1st. Registration is now open; visit HKcleanup.org for more information or to register (HKcleanup.org/register).