APATHY, lack of awareness as well as a lack of trash bins in Tungku beach were blamed for dozens of fully filled trash bags collected by volunteers during the International Coastal Cleanup campaign organised by the Beach Bunch recently.
About a 100 over volunteers from several educational institutions and other organisations took part in the clean up campaign held in Tungku beach alongside with a handful more in Seri Kenangan beach in Tutong and the Sungai Liang beach in Belait last Saturday.
The Brunei Times interviewed participants as well as site coordinators to discuss the extent of the problems of polluted beaches in Brunei.
Nazihah Sharip, 18 and a group of Jerudong International students wandered into a semi-secluded spot along the Tungku beach coastline, hidden from sight by tall grass and trees.
Instead of a beautiful pristine, untouched environment, Nazihah and her friends discovered a trash haven. After an hour and half-a-dozen black garbage bags later, the volunteers peeled away everything from styrofoam containers and cups to plastic bags and food wrappers from the greenery.
"It's very dirty," she said bluntly when asked to describe the area. She also believed that because the spot was hidden, people were inclined to throw their rubbish in the area.
She and her friends also said that people litter on the beaches because they believed "nobody is going to care," whereas some people have the mindset that "they are never going to see it again" after they have thrown away their rubbish.
"They think it's a small thing," she said, noting that they may be unaware or have forgotten that polluting beaches have an impact on the environment.
Afiqah Hamir, 17, said that seeing part of the beach in such a condition was shameful, "Brunei has some really nice beaches," she said, noting it was something great about the country. However, the sight of rubbish littering the beaches was something that was off-putting, remarking that if they were kept cleaner, she and her friends would probably frequent the beaches more.
She also believed that people littered as a matter of convenience, due to the absence of trash bins in the area, people would just leave their trash where it is instead of making a walk some distance away to dispose of it. "It's like they think it's going to magically disappear," she said.
Wan Nurul Naszeerh, 22, a volunteer taking part that day was also upset about the amount of non-degradable trash she and her friend had collected throughout the day.
"Bruneians should know better," she said, making reference to wet-wipes used for sanitary care.
Unlike tissue paper, she said, wet-wipes are not biodegradable, also noting that they had picked up other pieces of trash such as styrofoam and plastics.
"Styrofoam does not degrade; it breaks down into little pieces," she said, which is both harmful to wildlife and may eventually end up back to humans. She stressed that something had to be done, "JASTRE (Department of Parks, Recreation and Environment) needs to do something," she said, remarking that more rubbish bins could be provided.
The Brunei Times