KOTA KINABALU: There was an unusual sight in Tanjung Lipat, the State capital’s popular waterfront area here yesterday.
Alongside couples taking romantic walks and families lounging under the afternoon sun were scores of people happily combing the sandy beaches for rubbish.
Many donned a yellow t-shirt proclaiming themselves as a 'Trash Hero'.
It was a fitting name for individuals selflessly taking it upon themselves to keeping our beaches trash-free.
The leader Monica Chin said they started out with six to 10 people in their first initiative here in Sabah and now there were 125 volunteers.
Monica is the co-founder of Trash Hero Borneo, which is a local chapter of the international non-governmental organisation. During her travels in Thailand in 2014, she was amazed by the fact that everywhere she went, Trash Hero volunteers were tidying the places.
"I thought, why not start this in Sabah?" she said, embarking on various environmental talks and gathering supporters before finally launching the chapter's first cleanup operation in March.
But not all the volunteers at Tanjung Lipat were locals. Swiss national Roman Peter stuck out like a sore thumb with his towering height and sandy brown hair.
Roman in fact is the co-founder of the original Trash Hero World that has taken the world by storm - with nothing more than plastic bags and a willing pair of hands.
"We could take pictures of the rubbish, show them to people and say 'someone should clean this up! This is someone's job!'
"But that is not true. This is everyone's job," said Roman, who was visiting Sabah for the first time to personally take part in the beach cleanup.
In just a little over three years, Trash Hero has evolved from a small project into 42 chapters worldwide.
"Trash Hero's concept is that we do not blame anyone, or just simply talk about problems. We want to provide solutions and actions because ultimately, actions speak louder than words.
"Furthermore, we are not getting any money from this as it is fully supported and funded by the volunteers and local communities themselves," said Roman, who believes this was the reason for the NGO's success.
At the end of the day, rubbish weighing a total of 252 kilogrammes was collected from Tanjung Lipat - a proud achievement for the passionate group, which consisted of Trash Hero crew members, students, and other volunteers.
While Trash Hero has undeniably made an impact here, many more Malaysians will need to contribute in order to ensure that the environment stays clean.
For those interested in volunteering, check out Trash Hero Borneo's facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TrashHeroBorneo/), where they post the latest updates on their next cleanup activity.