Pupils in dismay over cig butts and empty bottles strewn on beach

Joint effort: Pupils and teachers from SK Convent Green Lane segregating the rubbish they collected into different piles during the Penang World Cleanup Day 2022 in Batu Ferringhi. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Pupils who took part in the Penang World Cleanup Day 2022 at a beach here were dismayed to find the wanton discard of cigarette butts and empty alcohol bottles.

Qustina Norashid, Nur Alisha Mohd Ithris, Heidi Ong and C. Gunasundari, all 12, were disappointed to see other litter as well, including plastic spoons, tin cans and cigarette boxes, strewn along the Batu Ferringhi beach.

The four friends are from SK Convent Green Lane, one of the schools that participated in the event yesterday.

Nur Alisha said smokers should know there were better ways to dispose of their cigarette butts.

“Better still, they should stop smoking!

“It’s a beach, it would be better if they did not smoke here,” she said when met during the clean-up at Golden Sands by Shangri La Penang in Batu Ferringhi.

Gunasundari was worried that the butts would eventually end up in the ocean and choke marine life.

“I have seen videos on the National Geographic channel which show that happening.

“It’s upsetting to see so many dustbins along the beach yet there’s rubbish everywhere.

“We also found plastic spoons. Yes, it is nice to eat by the beach but make sure to throw away the used items properly,” she said.

Another of her schoolmate, V. Nivhasree, said she was happy to be out with such a large group to rid the beach of rubbish.

“My parents have taught me to pick up trash if I see any on the beach.”

The 12-year-old said she learnt how to segregate recyclable and non-recyclable items as well.

“I found glass bottles, which can be recycled.

“It greatly helps the environment if we do not litter as it ends up in the ocean eventually,” she said, adding that she also watched videos of animals choking on plastics.

They were part of some 300 students stationed at one of the 16 locations during the Penang World Cleanup Day, organised by Aimpactz Social Enterprise to create sustainability education and waste as a resource.

Aimpactz founder Dr Choong Jian Ming said 1,875 cigarette butts, weighing 515g, were collected by the students on the beach within half an hour yesterday morning.

Students from 46 other schools also took part in the event at the other 15 locations on Penang island and mainland.

Choong said over 2,800 schoolchildren were involved in the exercise, which was started in 2019.

“Usually after the clean-up, we will segregate the collected waste based on recyclables and non-recyclables and do an audit to see what is the major contributor to littering.

“We hope this programme teaches the children about cleanliness and not to litter,” he said.

Choong said while the World Cleanup Day falls on Sept 17 this year, the event was held earlier to fit the school calendar.

“We will hold another event on Sept 24 for the public,” he added.

In the United States, it was found that cigarette butts were the most abundant rubbish picked up by over 500,000 volunteers in the 2012 International Coastal Cleanup, covering a distance of nearly 29,000km.

They collected more than 2.1 million pieces.

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