Green Nudge Reviews: My “Rent-A-Craft, Pay-By-Trash” Kayaking Experience by PA PAssion WaVe

November 3, 2020

Recently, our intern Vernice participated in PA PAssion WaVe’s “Rent-A-Craft, Pay-By-Trash” campaign (9 – 30 September 2020) which encouraged members of the public to rent a kayak or a standup paddle in exchange for the amount of trash they collected at different water bodies in Singapore. Here is an account of her experience.

Do you enjoy the great outdoors? Or are finding ways to contribute to the environment? What if we tell you that there was an activity that could combine the best of both interests together?

Recently, I participated in a kayaking activity organised by PA PAssion WaVe. Also known as “Rent-A-Craft, Pay-By-Trash”, this programme allows participants to book a kayak or a standup paddle for 2 hours using the amount of trash collected from 6 outlets at various water bodies in Singapore (find out more at PAssion-WaVe). With no minimum amount of trash needed for the rental of kayaks, no certificate needed, no cost required (even the lockers to place your belongings are free), this means that one gets to experience a kayaking session you get to kayak for 2 hours for free! Who doesn’t love free stuff?  

My Experience at Jurong Lake Gardens

Together with another friend, I joined in a kayaking session at their newest outlet at Jurong Lake Gardens in the last week of September. A freshwater lake and reservoir formed with the damming of Sungei Jurong further downstream, the Jurong Lake Gardens is a combination of the Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden and Jurong Lake Park, making it a beautiful recreational area for relaxation and sports activities. 

Besides kayaking and water sports, the area has a wide variety of facilities, ranging from dog parks with adorable doggos to Forest Ramble, a nature playgarden for kids, a cycle path to ride your bike and pretty grasslands suitable for a photo shoot. Contrary to popular belief, the grasses are not Lalang. There are actually six species of grasses from the Pennisetum family.

Photo credits: NParks and Straits Times

Photo credits: NParks and Straits Times

Since the lake serves as a reservoir contributing to Singapore’s water supply, it is important that the lake remains in a clean condition. Rainwater that falls into the lake is channelled to our waterways and eventually carries the water to our reservoirs for storage, before it is treated and supplied to homes. 

Fun fact: The bridge at Jurong Lake Garden is called the Bridge of Double Beauty, it connects the Japanese garden to the Chinese Garden. The Japanese Garden is meant to recreate a traditional garden in Japan from the Muromachi period (1392 – 1568) to the Momoyama period (1568 – 1615), while the Chinese Garden is modelled after the ancient northern Chinese imperial architectural style of the Sung Dynasty period (960 to 127 AD). 

So does this make the west side the best side?

The Actual Kayaking and Cleanup Experience

Our experience started off with my friends and I signing up at the PAssion WaVe desk. We were then escorted by the staff members who gave us a short briefing on the reasons they started this campaign and the harmful effects of litter in our local water. They also showed us where we could kayak and the location where most of the trash resided using a map of the lake.  

After the briefing, we stored our items in the lockers assigned to us and headed to retrieve our life vests and cleaning equipment – a bucket and tong each. We were also offered a choice of single or double kayak. Since it was easier to balance on a double kayak, I decided to opt  for the open deck doubles kayak (recommended for beginners), before launching the kayaks at the dock. Throughout this time, the PAssion WaVe staff were really helpful and patient in helping us into the kayak and made sure we were able to kayak safely. We took less than 15 minutes to familiarise with the paddles and kayak before launching off to collect the trash. 

While kayaking around the lake, I was really doubtful that there was trash to pick up. Afterall the place was a common recreational spot with frequent visitors so it must be rather clean. Furthermore, it looked really clean so I was really skeptical about what to expect. However, when we reached the shore, I was quite taken aback at the amount of litter hidden within the mangrove. Even my friend, a frequent visitor of Jurong Lake Gardens,  and kayaked in the lake before, was shocked at the huge amount of litter.

Since we were sitting on open kayaks, water filled with trash occasionally flowed into our kayaks. In a normal situation, this would have resulted in our shoes getting wet. Thankfully, we had the foresight to put on water shoes so that prevented us from getting our sports shoes or sneakers from getting wet. If you do not have a pair of water shoes, I would recommend getting a pair (there are affordable pairs from Decathlon starting from $6), and it would really come in handy when the dirty water flows into your kayak. Compared to normal sneakers or sports shoes, the water shoes would be a more comfortable option. 

Throughout the cleanup, there was a strong sewage stench which left a rather memorable impression. We were surrounded by insects from the mangroves such as dragonflies or spiders. However, we were so engrossed in cleanup that we forgot to pay too much attention to them. In fact, as my focus was mainly on picking up trash, I’ve learnt to ignore these insects and i’m proud to announce that I’m not as afraid of them after this experience. Woohoo!  

Picking up trash while kayaking was really fun! and thrilling too .It felt like a game as I tried to maneuver the kayak and made use of the paddle to find the trash out of the water. Unlike those that I found in a beach cleanup, the cans I found were corroded and the plastic items had algae on it, which suggested that these items were in the water for a while. It did make me wonder how they got there in the first place. 

Fifteen minutes before the end of our rental period, we started to head back towards the deck. Along the way, to enjoy the views of Jurong Lake Garden and the chinese architecture by the lake. Seeing the greenery and scenery around the lake was very relaxing. Compared to the stress relieving grey, high-rise buildings and busy traffic that we normally see, this was a good break and healing to the soul.

Back on land, we brought up the kayak and buckets of trash before weighing them. Over the course of 2 hours, we collected a grand total of *drumrolls* 10kg of trash in 2 hours! We ended the cleanup with a survey on the trash that we collected.

Which brings to mind – the most interesting trash that we found was a whiskey bottle. Hmm, I wonder where that came from. 

 

The Actual Kayaking and Cleanup Experience

Our experience started off with my friends and I signing up at the PAssion WaVe desk. We were then escorted by the staff members who gave us a short briefing on the reasons they started this campaign and the harmful effects of litter in our local water. They also showed us where we could kayak and the location where most of the trash resided using a map of the lake.  

While kayaking around the lake, I was really doubtful that there was trash to pick up. Afterall the place was a common recreational spot with frequent visitors so it must be rather clean. Furthermore, it looked really clean so I was really skeptical about what to expect. However, when we reached the shore, I was quite taken aback at the amount of litter hidden within the mangrove. Even my friend, a frequent visitor of Jurong Lake Gardens,  and kayaked in the lake before, was shocked at the huge amount of litter.

My Takeaways

This experience made me realise that litter is present around in the heartlands of Singapore. Seeing wildlife living among trash left me heartbroken and realising how the living conditions of wildlife are being damaged due to single use plastic or litter caused by humans made me reflect upon ways what we could improve on. 

I could never have imagined how heavily polluted the lake was just by looking at it from my point of view, this shows that there is always more than it meets the eye. It reminded me of how even though we might not feel the impact of environmental issues directly, it is still very real and is happening right now at this very moment. 

Compared to a normal beach cleanup, picking up trash while kayaking was way more challenging as we had to maneuver ourselves carefully to pick up the trash. There were times when the trash was out of our reach and we had to paddle ourselves in a way so that we do not miss it. Although it might be uncomfortable for some to stay in such an environment picking trash for 2 hours, the challenge will definitely make it more exciting to pick up trash while kayaking. 

Final Thoughts

All in all, it was a fruitful and meaningful activity and I have no qualms to attend it once again! Families, groups of friends or even dating couples looking for a new experience may wish to consider this activity. Besides having the opportunity to be surrounded with awesome local scenery (which means with many photo opportunities), one also gets to experience unique and meaningful activity. And of course, remember to trash your litter so that it is a double win for you and the environment! 

From 1 November to 27 December 2020, PAssion WaVe will be conducting a cleanup competition for its kayak and stand-up paddle rentals. Stand to win shopping vouchers when participants rent out kayaks and paddles and head to the various outlets to pick up litter!

Find out more at:

https://www.onepa.gov.sg/cat/water-sports 

https://www.facebook.com/pa.passionwave/

This is not a sponsored post but an actual experience from our intern Vernice. But we wouldn’t say no to potential partners in the future, especially if they too share a common goal in making green the norm 🙂  

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