SINGAPORE - English literature teacher Chuang Xin Sulynn, 35, noticed the trash gathered on the beaches of Pulau Tekukor off the Singapore coast when she paddles past the small island twice a week, but could not do anything about it - access to the island is restricted.
On Sunday (April 17), she finally got the chance to help out, joining around 50 people to clear trash on Pulau Tekukor, Lazarus Island and St John's Island.
Organised by the Singapore Paddle Club, the cleanup aims to clear Singapore's southern coastline of plastic trash, garbage and marine debris, which would otherwise pose a threat to humans and marine animals.
Minister for National Development Desmond Lee joined the initiative on Sunday morning, paddling with more than 40 ocean paddlers from Sentosa to Southern Islands.
In a post on Facebook on Sunday, he thanked the Singapore Paddle Club and other ground-up groups for keeping Singapore green.
He said: "The Paddle Club does this regularly under their 'Sea, Earth and Air' movement, to help keep our waters and offshore islands clean. Plastic bottles, cigarette butts, nylon ropes, fishing nets, lots and lots of styrofoam and even a computer monitor, were among the heaps of debris collected."
Ms Chuang said she is passionate about taking care of the earth.
She said: "There isn't a Planet B for us to retreat to if we mess this one up; it is everyone's responsibility to do our part to be stewards of our planet. As an ocean paddler, I also think that it is our responsibility to take care of the ocean that we play in - the waters, the plants, the animals, the birds.
"A lot of Singaporeans don't know how rich in wildlife our own backyard is. Once you have seen sharks and turtles in our own waters, it is difficult to turn a blind eye or pretend that this is someone else's problem to clean up."
Ms Chuang tries to do her part to stay green in her daily life by taking her own food containers and utensils to work, using soap bars and cycling to the MRT station.
Participants were encouraged to use low carbon emission means to get to the event - such as cycling, electric cars, trains, or carpooling.
Singapore Paddle Club president Ng Daojia, 40, cycled to Sentosa for the event.
He said: "The ocean paddling clubs on Sentosa are stewards of the waters that we paddle in. As stewards, cleaning the water, beaches and saving marine wildlife around our Southern Islands is not just a desire, it should be the duty of all paddlers.
"I try to also be mindful about how much trash I put into bin. I choose my groceries based on how much packaging waste I am going to generate and how far they had to travel to get to me."