11. Beach Cleanup - Malaysia with Vala

Beach cleanups don’t keep beaches clean. People keep beaches clean.

Dr. Valarmathy (Vala) 

Doing nothing and just complaining about it, you know, looking at a photo where turtles being strangled with a piece of plastic. Like all this is a sad photo and OK next photo. No, I’m not going to do that. You know, I’m actually going to go and do something about it. I’m going to engage my friends and family. So I think I have the satisfaction actually doing something about it. 

Pristine Ocean 

Doctor Valrmathy is a medical doctor and an eye surgeon. 

Doctor Valrmathy, or Vala to her friends is a social activist and spends her free time running six different beach cleaning organisations. 

I asked her to help me imagine what I would see on a typical Malaysian beach. 

Dr. Valarmathy (Vala) 

When I go to the beach, the first thing that obviously we look at the water and the sand right? We have this beautiful picture of how families are having their picnics. And then sometimes you see something that attracts my attention. Maybe monkeys in the trees. We have a lot of dogs and cats in our beaches here in Malaysia. 

Pristine Ocean 

There is also trash lying around. Food wrappings drink containers.

Of course, some of it comes washed in from the ocean, but mostly it’s from careless beachgoers. 

Dr. Valarmathy (Vala) 

I think we we can just wait for a huge NGO or leave it to the government to do something. I think you can always do voluntary work no matter what you are doing. You know, feeding the homeless or environmental group or even feeding the stray. I think each of us individually, we can do something and its our responsiblity to make change. 

Dr. Valarmathy (Vala) 

Every time we engage with our volunteers, they come with a clean slate. They do not know much about single use plastic. They not do not know about environmental issues that’s going on. So once they join our beach clean up, they they listen to us. They join us. If pick up trash, they go back and change their lifestyle, I’ve seen a lot of my friends who stop using single use. They now carry their own metal straws. 

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!