140 million metric tons of trash are in our oceans, according to the official figures of the German Federal Environmental Agency. Up to an additional ten million metric tons are added each year. Around 70 percent of the trash sinks to the bottom of the ocean and endangers the existing plant and animal life there. The remaining trash drifts on the ocean surface. Part of it washes up on coastlines and beaches.
This is also the case on the Wu Kai Sha Beach in northeastern Hong Kong – a beach that is located near a residential area and is well visited on weekends and during nice weather. Not only trash washed up by the waves can be found in the sand and between the rocks, but also remnants from the most recent day spent at the beach.
Colleagues from the HABA Asia branch office and their families got together this past Saturday. Their mission: Get rid of the trash!
“For most of us, this was not the first activity of this kind,” explains Felix Ehrlicher, head of the branch office. “So-called “Beach Clean Ups” take place regularly in Hong Kong in order to keep the beaches clean.”
Equipped with trash bags and gloves, the group gets to work. Even shoe soles and the remains of wetsuits are among the objects found. But the most serious problem are the microplastics, tiny little pieces of plastic that result from the disintegration of larger plastic parts such as bottles, packaging materials, or fishing nets. “These are very easily washed back into the ocean and mistaken for food by fish and other sea creatures. In this way, the plastic can ultimately get into our food,” is how Felix describes the problem.
“It’s so easy to do something to protect our environment.”
The team collects even the smallest pieces and fills sack after sack – until a heavy rain shower ends the activity. The group can nevertheless be proud of the work they accomplished. Steven Lui is convinced that this day also heightened the awareness of his two children: “Now they have seen for themselves how many bottles and packaging materials are here and how much work it takes to collect everything. I’m sure that they will take the issue more seriously in the future!”
Manna Tam is now really motivated to continue the work: “I’ll take part in these activities in the future. It’s so easy to do something to protect our environment.”