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‘Mystery’ cleanup drive on island set for ‘Earth Day’

27 April 2018

A recent cleanup was well-attended by Filipino domestic helpers.
Photo: AquaMeridian Conservation & Education Foundation.
A massive cleanup drive in one of Hong Kong's outlying islands has been set for April 22 to mark Earth Day. But the location of the event is not being disclosed - yet.

“The location is a secret - adds more fun,” said Robert Lockyer, operations director of the AquaMeridian Conservation & Education Foundation, which is leading the cleanup.

Lockyer said his group has been organizing regular cleanup events in Lamma where he lives, and on Lantau and Hong Kong islands. Hundreds of people, many of them foreign domestic helpers, take part.

“Every month we do a big cleanup event and each weekend we do smaller cleanups, hiking or hiking trails cleanups,” he said.

At each event, more than 100 FDHs reportedly turn out to join and help. The biggest turnout for helpers according to him was on Feb. 25 when about 300 of them came to help.

“On Sunday 25th February, over 500 people comprising of over 300 domestic helpers, about 50 children, more than 100 local residents from Hong Kong, about 50 members from the Lamma Island sports clubs descended (on) TaiWanTo to start the Year of the Dog with one big cleanup,” he said.

The group reportedly collected over 1400 kilos of rubbish  left on Lamma's beach in just under two hours.

Lockyer said the trash, mostly polystyrene left from typhoon Hato which devastated Hong Kong in September 2017, had been on the beach for at least 6 months.

“The mission today was to get a head start on cleaning the beaches before the 2018 typhoon and monsoon seasons began and our beaches become too devastated again,” Lockyer said after the operation.

After polystyrene he said the second most common item picked up that day was plastic cutlery and drinking straws.

A participating team  from the Hong Kong Ghost Net Facebook Group also managed to remove some plastic nets that had become entangled in the rocks.

Following the cleanup, a representative from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department reportedly said that it took 15 village vehicles to remove all the trash that was collected that day.

Keilim Ng, from the Lantau-based marine environmental organization EcoMarine said: "It’s so rewarding to see so many people inspired to come along today. We all hope and wish that they will carry the memory of today with them and replicate this all over Hong Kong.”

A representative from one of the main supporters for the event, The European Union Office of Hong Kong and Macao, thanked all the volunteers, and expressed hope that everyone could change their pattern of behavior in everyday life and consume less single use plastic.

Lockyer said: "Whilst approximately 400 bags of trash were collected from the beach, sadly this will all end up in Hong Kong landfill due to the limited opportunities and funding for recycling in Hong Kong and the single waste transport facility that is on north Lamma Island".

He said that for the whole of 2018, his group will be organizing monthly public cleanups to help promote a healthier and happier lifestyle by using less “single use plastic”

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