August Newsletter 2016
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Aberdeen Harbour

Summer days at the beach?

Long summer days should be spent cooling off in the sea, relaxing and playing in the sand at the beach.  But if the beach was in Hong Kong it would likely be an unforgettable day for all the wrong reasons!  

Every summer the deluge of plastic flows onto the beaches of Hong Kong, some coming from the Pearl River Delta mixing with our own locally generated rubbish.  The sand is covered ankle deep with plastic. Some beaches, according to the EPD, are receiving 7 tonnes of debris washing up daily*.  To swim in this swirling plastic soup is unthinkable as is letting your kids do a surfing camp or similar water sports over the summer break. This year it was reported to be 6-10 times worse than usual due to flooding in China following Typhoon Nepartak. With some investigation following the increased media coverage and pressure from environmental groups, there has been discoveries of illegal dumping out at sea by cargo "junk boats" disposing of tonnes of low value plastic.

Whilst it is easy to blame our neighbors for all our waste problems, Hong Kong certainly needs to start source reduction actions in our own backyard first. The Save Aberdeen Harbour Alliance has made a huge difference in raising awareness and cleaning up one significant source point of some of Hong Kong's floating rubbish. The first event in June had 46 people using dinghies and hand-held nets to remove 2 truckloads of floating polystyrene boxes, foam lunchboxes, plastic drink bottles, cutlery, plastic bags and myriad other items - all of local origin, from Aberdeen Harbour. As a result of the public's efforts, the government has listened to the stakeholders involved and is focusing attention on the issues that have been raised here.  The Fish Marketing Organisation (FMO) has also been inspired to take action and help clean up the water and prevent polystyrene box leakage from the fish markets as well as be part of the conversation to initiate much needed change. By working together, the Hong Kong Government, NGOs, relevant organisations and local residents will be able to implement real source reduction initiatives and reduce our local input of plastic waste.  

Get involved with the next Save Aberdeen Harbour Alliance cleanup on October 1st and see how you can be inspired to start action in your local area.

*source: EPD statistics of waste recovered by LCSD daily from Pui O beach in July
Plastic Free Seas in action:

To see all events for the summer click here.

On land
The new school year has started and so have the PFS school visits.  With 100s of Secondary School students looking for projects to fulfil course requirements the PFS team have been busy with waste reduction project suggestions and are on hand to help support students with their new initiatives. 
On the beach
PFS joined local NGOs for a cleanup at Lung Kwu Tan beach. Creative display boards were made to show items that participants pledged not to use anymore. Thank you to the Jane Goodall Institute, The Green Earth, Polyfoam Recycling Scheme, Friends of Green and Wherevergreen. 
Out at sea
The Summer program on the Sea Classroom featured some new half day fun activities with an Aberdeen Harbour tour to start. The activities that followed included arts and craft, weaving of plastic bottles and up-cycling. Even our Skipper and Crew enjoyed making citrus peel cleaning products!
Back to School!
Would you like Plastic Free Seas to come in to your school for a talk? If you are a parent and would like to introduce PFS to your child's school or teacher we would be grateful for the introduction. Please get in touch with Dana to discuss.  The PFS Sea Classroom program is also open for new bookings and Julia will be very happy to answer your questions.
We are looking to 
extend our education outreach in primary schools with fun activity worksheets.  The students will learn about the problems and solutions of marine pollution through games, puzzles and creative writing and drawing.  They can take the worksheets home to discuss with parents and siblings.  Our goal is  HK$15,000 to design and print these bilingual worksheets for use during this school year. Individual or corporate donations welcome.  Thank you!
Little Wins Campaign:
What can one person do to make a difference? Our response is always - a lot! If you want to see positive change, find out who to contact and let them know. Write a letter, talk to a manager. If you don't ask, it definitely won't happen.

During our first trial run on the PFS Sea Classroom one of the outdoor bean bags that came with the boat burst. Polystyrene beads were flying EVERYWHERE! You can't imagine how mortified we were that Plastic Free Seas was polluting the sea.  We had to do something to rectify this! Read the full story here
Microbeads  -  Good News!
After a couple of years of dialogue and information sharing about plastic microbeads, PFS is very pleased to see that SaSa and Watsons have announced their commitment to banning microbeads in their own exfoliating and cleansing products. 
Whilst it is great news that we now have two major Asian retail chains committed to a phaseout timeline for microbeads, we still need to continue with the push for Hong Kong legislation to prohibit the sale and importation of all microbead-containing products. Support the campaign and sign the petition.

August Eco-tip:
Hong Kong generates over ten thousand tonnes of waste every day and the waste problem is even worse during and after festivals.  With the Mid-Autumn Festival fast approaching, there are a few simple steps you can take to limit or reduce your environmental impact.  

  • Say no to glow sticks! (or use less)
  • Choose quality colored LED lights or torches
  • Reuse lanterns from last year and save lanterns for next year
  • Make your own paper or upcycled lanterns  
  • If new lanterns are purchased choose quality paper lanterns over plastic
  • Choose minimally packaged moon cakes
  • Use washable cutlery, plates and cups for outdoor celebrating
  • Recycle mooncake boxes

Upcoming Events:  

"Get Redressed" Clothing Drive - August 27 - September 11, Central
Natural and Organic Products Asia Expo - August 31 - September 2, Wan Chai North
Community Beach Cleanup - September 3, Discovery Bay (Sam Pak Wan), 3-5pm
Dolphin Quest - September 10
Ubiquitous Trash Exhibition - until September 10, Sheung Wan
International Coastal Cleanup Challenge - Sign up a team September to November, HK Cleanup or Green Council
Community Beach Cleanup* - September 16, Discovery Bay (Tai Pak Beach) - 8-10am
Rescue the Ocean Exhibition - Museum of Climate Change CUHK until November 30
Aberdeen Harbour Cleanup - October 1

*This is a post-Lantern Festival, family friendly beach cleanup specially scheduled to raise awareness of the waste created by these beach events.

In the News:

Plastic Free Seas is grateful for the generosity and support from individuals, companies, schools and foundations to fund our education programs.  If you want to contribute, your donation large or small will help continue to run the PFS land, beach and sea activities.
Copyright © 2016 Plastic Free Seas, All rights reserved.


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Plastic Free Seas · PO Box 290 · Tung Chung · Lantau Island · Hong Kong

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