September 27, 2023, by Mei Kee Lee
Plastic World and Plastic Education Workshop
One summer holiday, I went to a beautiful island in Borneo with my family. I was looking forward to enjoying the white sandy beach and the clear blue sea. To my dismay, the beach on the island was littered with plastic rubbish. Looking at my kids cleaning up the beach (Figure 1), it left a big impact on me.
After finding inspiration with my colleagues (Prof Chris Gibbins and Dr Sivathass Bannir) from the School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, we initiated transdisciplinary research on microplastic. Our initial two students were funded by the Faculty Scholarship scheme (Kitty Chen and Ng Yong Sin) where they investigated the sources and loads of microplastic in the Langat River and its’ animals. The latter work on microplastic contamination of fish and invertebrates in Malaysian Rivers was additionally funded by The Habitat Foundation.
We initiated a research group on ‘novel environmental contaminants’ and won the inaugural Tricampus Research Team Award for most Supportive/Inclusive Research Environment 2022 (Figure 2). We have since recruited more postgraduate and undergraduate students and colleagues researching on this topic and organised regular mini seminars supported by the Faculty’s research group funding (Figure 3). We have also presented our research ideas to a few companies (including MedKlinn and Medicos) and two political representatives of Selangor state highlighting the concerns of microplastic contaminant. We received a grant by the Kurita Water and Environment Foundation (2023), awarded to Miss Chin Man Yee.
When Malaysia is fully opened after the lock down following the Covid19 pandemic, I have reached out to more than 400 students in nine schools in Selangor, Sarawak and Sabah since May 2023 (Table 1; Figure 4), sharing with them our research findings on microplastic (Figure 5). The aim of the workshop is to create awareness of the impact of plastic contaminants on our environment and wildlife. Students are asked to think about plastic around them and how these plastics are part of our modern living. At the end of the workshop, we discuss how indiscriminate consumption of plastic especially single use plastic can adversely impact our world and what we can do to reduce our dependency on it.
|25-May||Selangor||SJK(C) Batu 11 Cheras||40|
|27-Jun||Selangor||Sathya Sai Primary School||40|
|4-Aug||SMK St Thomas||45|
|18-Sep||Kota Kinabalu||SK Kionsom Inanam||62|
|18-Sep||SJK(C) St James||40|
|19-Sep||SM St John Tuaran||36|
|20-Sep||Tshung Tsin Secondary||54|
Table 1 A list of schools where the plastic world workshop was delivered between May and September 2023. The age of these students are between 11 and 14 years old.
Ting Kang Nee
Head, School of Pharmacy
Novel contaminant research group
The Habitat Foundation
University of Nottingham Malaysia