Seastainable founder Samantha Thian shares what sparked her decision to organise beach cleanups in Singapore.
26-year-old Samantha Thian started the #EastCoastBeachPlan after discovering a dire problem during her morning walks at East Coast Beach, which was excessively polluted with plastic trash.
As she lives near the beach, Samantha noticed that “there were also lesser cleaners, likely due to the dormitory lockdowns”.
However, she realised the beach’s scattered environment required an urgent solution.
“During the circuit breaker, I started actively exercising more often at the beach. That was when I realised the increase in plastic in the flotsam that was washed ashore,” she told Youth.SG.
Soon after, the full-time sustainability manager decided to incorporate cleaning up the trash into her exercise routine.
Samantha also made the pivotal decision to update her Instagram about her solo beach clean-up effort, where she started receiving an outpour of supportive messages from others who were keen on cleaning up the beach.
The encouraging feedback inspired Samantha to come up with her new initiative, #EastCoastBeachPlan, where she organises beach cleanups at designated areas in Singapore. Volunteers can gather in groups of five to clear scattered rubbish found on shore.
Thereafter, a contractor will gather all the trash bags and dispose them as the plastic is too contaminated to be recycled.
She went on to create a Telegram group chat to disseminate important information, such as the clean-up schedule of designated areas and updates on the cleanliness status of the different beaches in Singapore.
Since its beginning on Jul 3, the Telegram group has amassed more than 2,200 members.
“It’s good exercise and good fun also. There’s just so much plastic trash that it’s impossible for one person to clean up alone. We need collective efforts!” she exclaimed.
As the founder of Seastainable.co, a social business that sells metal straws, paper coasters, tote bags and more, it isn’t a surprise that Samantha has led many successful marine conservation projects in South East Asia.
In fact, Seastainable has contributed over $30,000 to over 35 conservation projects in the last two years.
She also manages to keep her business afloat whilst donating 50 per cent of profits to organisations making their mark in the marine conservation community.
Despite such feats, Samantha was still surprised by how quickly her new initiative had gained traction.
“I did not expect it to grow so quickly, and was very touched by how people started joining the chat and sharing the status of the beach,” added Samantha.
As the #EastCoastBeachPlan grew with vigour, it also captured the attention of Minister of Sustainability and the Environment, Grace Fu, who personally joined the Telegram group and attended the clean-up with her colleagues on Aug 8.
Propelled by her strong will to keep Singapore’s beaches clean and marine life unscathed, Samantha announced the #5forSG55 plan in lieu of National Day, where she challenged participants to gather in groups of five and clear five bags of trash over the National Day weekend.
“We wanted to gather the community and have a fun activity for family and friends to do! So we challenged the community to get into groups of five, and pick up five bags of trash,” said Samantha.
Cleaning Up East Coast Beach
We joined the #EastCoastBeachPlan last weekend! 🏖️ Here's what went down.Posted by Youth.SG on Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Youth.SG also joined the #EastCoastBeachPlan last weekend to do our part.
As the event saw a substantial turnout, Samantha’s initiative even earned a shoutout on Facebook by Minister Grace Fu, who thanked Samantha “for starting this very meaningful initiative”.
So far, the #EastCoastBeachPlan efforts have helped to clear out more than 6,163.51kg of trash and garnered over 605 participants in 124 cleanups.
Impressive statistics aside, Samantha’s biggest triumph was “witnessing how the community had come together to share about the status of the beach, shared their equipment for others to use, and being very open to allow strangers to join their groups and clean together.”
She was also happy to see her idea growing as a community initiative, encouraging other people to clean the beaches.
“I hope we can raise awareness on the need to reduce our single-use plastics, and encourage a more collaborative effort amongst the community,” she added.
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