A hundred volunteers from the Coca-Cola family returned to Pulau Ketam this year (Crab Island) for the third edition of Wipe Out Waste, an environmental initiative by Coca-Cola Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) involving the local community that takes a hard look at the issues of marine debris and proper waste management.

An idyllic setting for a day or overnight trip for fishing and delicious seafood, the fishing village attracts its fair share of tourist yet a closer look will reveal the dirty truth behind the picturesque island.

Like many other coastal communities around the world, Pulau Ketam faces the problem where tonnes of rubbish are brought in by the daily tide, affecting their livelihood, sanitary health and homes.

Wipe Out Waste actively engages the community through a series of activities beginning in 2016. 

Mangrove forests

“Mangrove forests are a vital part of estuary ecosystems and bring numerous benefits to the marine environment and surrounding communities. Not only does it benefit the fisheries and provide timber for construction materials and by products, mangrove forests also creates a buffer zone that offers protection from erosion, heavy winds and even typhoons. The dense root systems also act as a natural filter to trap marine debris,” said MNS Executive Director, I.S. Shanmugaraj

Mangrove tree seedlings were planted in a degraded area bordering the school, which became littered due to indiscriminate dumping, causing even more debris to be washed into the school compound. 

Community clean up

Coca-Cola volunteers worked alongside the local community to pick up debris from the mudflats, as a reminder to the locals to better manage their solid waste disposal.

Trapping marine debris

A rubbish trap made from used fishing nets donated by the community’s fishermen was installed along the school borders where the tide flows in, to prevent marine litter from washing in and creating a non-conducive environment for studying.

Cleanliness signage

A series of signage with friendly messages strategically placed around the island remind the local community and visitors alike to keep the island environment clean. The initial set of signs installed last year produced positive results from the local community who felt that it encouraged a change in people’s behaviour.

It is hoped that with the concerted efforts by Coca-Cola and MNS to generate awareness among the community, the environmental health of the island will improve even as it creates a new generation of environmental warriors.