Thursday, 16 June 2016

Earth Day Forest Cleanup, Tree-Planting Session and Colour Fight

I'm making Green Living's Earth Day cleanups an annual affair. Not only will we choose a different forest reserve to clean up each year, I am trying to think up activities to bring volunteers closer together so they don't just leave after the trees have been planted and rubbish has been removed. Last Earth Day, we had a photo contest for the cleanup participants. For our cleanup and tree-planting session on New Year's Day, I threw in refreshments and a Raffle Draw.
For this Earth Day, we organised a forest cleanup and tree-planting session, followed by a potluck party, raffle draw and Holi-inspired colour fight at the Kota Damansara Community Forest. Shamila, Liza and I made the coloured powder for the colour fight using cornstarch and food dye, and approximately 26 volunteers turned up to help out, and around 20 stayed back for the colour fight.

A group photo for posterity with the MBPJ local councillor. We had 22 Merbau saplings to be planted in the forest reserve.
An Asian Forest Scorpion (Heterometrus longimanus) decided to attend our safety and protocol briefing as well. I pointed him out to our volunteers and everyone whipped out their phone cameras. Coolest bunch of volunteers ever. I didn't think I would ever have to say repeatedly to children: "No, you can't pick him/her up. No, you can't hold him/her. No, you can't bring him/her home, he/she lives here."
Liza and Sally hard at work cleaning up the area beside the lake and head of the trail. We started by raking up the leaf litter into piles (to make the trail less slippery and safer for hikers and cyclists) and then removed and bagged up plastics and all manmade litter.

Basic safety and protocol briefing, and job division briefing.
(Photo credits: Shannon Ng).
All hands on board: Volunteers of all ages working together to dig up and remove manmade litter from the trails.
Jeyanth went out on the boat with the Orang Asli guides to clean litter off the surface of the lake. Pretty glad I sponsored the lifejackets. Hope to get more, either new or preloved, for future lake cleanup sessions.

Cleaning up the lakeside area together with Maya, Jack and Zhang En.
(Photo credits: Shamila)
Post-cleanup group photo, with only some of the group members as the others had gone off on a hike or wanted to continue picking up litter, before the local council arrived to haul all the rubbish away. I think we did pretty well for a group of 26 volunteers, considering that the litter consisted mostly of tiny, tiny scraps such as cigarette butts and sweet wrappers.
Potluck breakfast and Raffle Draw time!
Liza wins one of the Survival Whistles.
Potluck breakfast and Raffle Draw time!
Hari wins stationery and a pocket magnifying glass.
Potluck breakfast and Raffle Draw time!
Shamila wins an Eco Kids book and stickers for her little ones!
Sharing food and making new friends over breakfast.
The coloured flour made by Liza, Shamila and me for the Holi-inspired colour right. Next time, I will:
1. Put the mixture under the sun to dry immediately.
2. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to the mixture to prevent mould and bacteria from settling. I had to throw out my first tray :(

Holi-inspired colour fight to end the Earth Day weekend with a bang!

Many thanks to all the volunteers who made this event a success!

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