Welcome to the Pristine Ocean podcast. I’m your host Peter Hall. Each week we talked to people around the world fighting the scourge of marine plastic litter.
And I must say I have a few friends who are what you call, armchair critics. The only people always have this thing. They should do this. The schools should do that. The government should do this in.
The authorities should do that as well. You can see all that to the cows. Come home. The trash is still there.
The only thing is you get out of the chair going. Pick it up, then you see a difference.
The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that somebody else will save it.
This quote from Robert Swan, who was the first person to walk to both poles, resonates with many people because it rings so true.
Even if people are concerned about the environment, they often wait for someone else to act. Or maybe they’re waiting for someone else to lead the way.
Today we’re talking to Kim Yip from the Beach Cleanup Kedah in Malaysia.
Kim spent her professional life teaching schoolchildren. Nowadays she is retired and has more time to concentrate on her passion: caring for the natural environment.
Although retired, she is still teaching. Teaching by leading.
She says that people want to help but need a platform to contribute.
So she created one.
She scouts out areas needing clean-ups and then flexes her social media muscles to organise volunteers to spend their free time on the beach removing trash.
Talking to her, she tells you that she is driven by a sense of responsibility for the environment and for the next generation.
Let’s go back a few years when she was a school teacher. In those days she was already involved in clean-ups.
The schools used to do clean-ups to collect data for our call International Studies. So they would rope in schools to help them and we would do that. That’s my first exposure to clean-ups.
You teach the kids how to recycle upcycle in school, so which clean-ups was just one of the many activities that we had.
The school provided the structures needed to organise the clean-ups as well as the helping hands of the students.
So as she started transitioning away from her life as a school teacher, she started looking around for inspiration how she might organise clean-ups outside the school environment.
She found what she was looking for in an existing beach clean-up organisation led by Doctor Vala in another state of Malaysia.
It looked perfect. The only problem was the distance. It was a long, long, way away.
So we used to travel once a month 400 kilometres one way.
To help them out and show my colleagues how it can be done.
It was a long way to travel, but there were rewards along the road and on the beach.
That’s how I found out that they actually reach out to volunteers using the social media. Well, I’m 62. We are not so active in using social medias but till much later.
So that’s how I learn from the group Doctor Vala’s Group, how it can be done.
And they were able to combine the cleanups with weekend trips.
Yeah, and it was nice meeting those people because their group of professionals and I was quite impressed. Actually that they were doing that.
You would think that mostly they’re just volunteers who are is not that daily job, but they put up sacrifice.
They travel some distance, sometimes to do it, so we were quite impressive what they were doing.
It could have gone on like this. A weekend outing, hooking up and helping out with Doctor Vala’s organisation.
But then something happened when Doctor Vala’s group was visiting Kim in her hometown.
You know they made a visit to Kedah and I was taking them around. We had pretty clean beaches as I remember.
I took them to a fishing village to have some seafood. I grew up from that area. I’ve not been there almost 15 years.
So when I re stepped down at the beach to watch the sunset, you were actually shocked. I was particularly shocked.
I said my God, the whole beach, which is this is a fishing village, was strewn with practically everything that you can find the houses out there, on the beach. Carpets, clothings, ghost Nets, gloves. So the guests were schocked.