In Taiwan, the 28th February 2017 was designated as Peace Memorial Day (二二八事件). On the 28th February 1947, an anti-government uprising in Taiwan was violently suppressed by the Kuomintang-led Republic of China government, which killed thousands of civilians. What better day then to go clean some beaches and help give something back to the Taiwanese people.
We headed out early to a small bay close to Keelong on the North East of Taiwan. It was a balmy 14 degrees, which is cold for Taiwan and wet, not a great start. Maybe no-one would turn up? When we arrived though we found around 150 people all ready to get cleaning. Wow!
The Scale of the Problem
Taiwan is one of the cleanest Countries in Asia and has the highest recycling rates in the world. You probably wouldn’t expect that there would be much trash to pick up. Check out the video below of what we found when we arrived! Unfortunately, this has now become the norm around the world. It is estimated that every single minute of the day 1 garbage truck worth of trash ends up in the oceans. By 2050 it is possible that the plastic pollution in the oceans will outweigh the animals that live there.
Time for Beach Cleaning
At around 9:30 am our organiser, Chen (陳信助) from Hands Love Taiwan (動 手 愛 台 灣) started to get the groups ready for beach cleaning. Armed with our trash bags and gloves off we went. During the 2 hours of beach cleaning, we were interviewed by a national TV station as part of the short bio they are filming about One Brown Planet in Taiwan. I am looking forwards to seeing the interview and hope to share it soon!
The cleaning was tough. Taiwan’s coastline is very rugged and so most of the trash ends up wedged in-between rocks. It was very difficult to get all of the plastic out at times. We found all the usual plastic pollution including fishing nets, bottles, plastic toys, flip flops and toothbrushes. Everytime I see these items now I cannot contemplate buying them for myself, only to see them end up in the oceans too.
At 11:00 am it was time to finish and all 150 people gathered their trash bags together for the big weigh in. In total, we collected nearly 2.5 tonnes of trash! All this from a section of beach only 300m long. Bare in mind that Taiwan’s coastline is over 1100km’s long.