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KUALA LUMPUR, 22 September:

Environmental preservation is a collective responsibility. However, most people take lightly the importance of environmental cleanliness while indiscriminately chucking rubbish, even at tourist hotspots.

For outdoor enthusiast, Mohd Nasyat Safwan Abdul Manan, 27, the idea of establishing “Geng Plastik Sampah” (Trash Bag Gang), a voluntary movement to clean and pick up trash dumped by the public on hills and mountains in the country came as a proactive measure.

“I love extreme activities like mountain climbing, so I think it is beneficial for today’s generation to preserve our natural wonders.

“That was the trigger for the gang that I started with the help of other volunteers to keep mountains clean,” said the Kelantan-born environmentalist.

The programme is open to members of the public through Facebook and seasoned climbers as well as amateurs can take part in conservation efforts to keep hills and mountains clean.

“Our membership is growing as there are always new people joining in. Originally, we started out with 19 people but now our number has reached 60,” he told The Rakyat Post.

Asked about their conservation efforts, Mohd Nasyat said at times they felt their efforts to take care of the environment were taken for granted.

“There are times that we feel like ‘cleaners’ as certain parties are irresponsible and keep discarding garbage irresponsibly as they think others will clean up their mess.

“We want the public to become aware that taking care of the environment is everyone’s responsibility and that nature should not be marred with trash.”

The group has been operating for roughly eight months and have been cleaning up hilly areas such as Pantai Batu Putih in Port Dickson, Bukit Broga in Selangor, Gunung Rajah in Pahang, among others.

The group is privately funded through donations from volunteers and members.

“Items like garbage bags and gloves are normally bought using my own money, and fuel costs, toll, food and other expenses are met by the entire group.

“We don’t care much for amenities. All of us pitch in, do our part and most importantly have fun.”

He said it would be a dream come true if more people got involved and the group got endorsement and help from authorities such as the Forestry Department.

“We have set our target on other more challenging climbs in the future and hope that our message of environmental preservation is heard by all.”

The group meets once a month for outdoor activities, including cleaning hills, hiking, jungle trekking, leisurely dips in rivers, streams and waterfalls as well as having barbecue sessions.

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