14 February 2006

My Ten-Cents worth of feedback about the Plastic Exhibition

Feedback about the Toddycats combined booth setup for the National Environment Agency's launch of "Why waste plastic bags, choose reusable bags" campaign at Parkway Parade Shopping Centre on Saturday, 11 Feb 2006. By Lim Chen Kee.

1. Conceptualization
At conceptualization, we have clearly stated our objectives and the theme of the exhibition, which we then designed our posters based on our objectives and theme. This is important because I realized when our booth is finally set up, our posters immediately became the focal point of the booth, making our booth relevant to the theme of the exhibitions.

The posters are well designed and suited for our objectives for the exhibition. The large pictures captured a lot of attention of by-passers especially the photograph of the turtle biting the plastics. However we should have stand-alone photographs of plastic litter for display and decoration.

2. Exhibition
What sort of people stopped by and what were their reactions?
More teachers and students from green clubs stopped by our booth than the general public. Since most of the former had not heard of ICCS, we used the opportunity to inform them about the cleanup and promote off-peak cleanups, which they could customise as small-group student projects with enhanced post-cleanup activities.

The general public was mostly attracted by the photo of the turtle on our posters, so we used that to initiate a conversation. Most of them were interested enough to want to be involved. However we were unable to attract the younger-aged public to our booth.

How effective was it?
We did not promote the message of reducing usage and recycling of plastics, as our focus was how marine litter, especially plastics, are harmful to nature and the environment. This focus did help to create an awareness as to why reducing plastics consumption and recycling would contribute to the protection of oceans, seas and shores and the animal life there. This was needed since it was not covered by other groups.

Was it worth it?
Yes, it is worth it. By being there, not only did we make the presence of the ICCS known; we also provided an avenue for groups who want to do more.

What did you learn from the other booths? What could we have done, had we more time?
Booths with bigger crowds used quizzes, puzzles and free gifts for the public. I don’t like the idea of using free gifts to entice the public [a Toddycats outlook], but I do think we should think about interactive activities in future. This will increase the effectiveness in spreading the message. We can also take a booth and with more space expand on the message.

What did you learn from the process?
I learned that if the audience is attracted by the posters and stopped to take a look, and there is someone who approaches them to talk to them, they would usually stay and listen. I missed a lot of opportunities by not engaging the split-second onlookers.

Other Comments:
I have a lot of fun and I think we did well for the exhibit in such a short time. To me, I feel that the mobile exhibits that we had discussed before can be done successfully and prove to be an effective tool to help spread environmental awareness if we plan well.

12 February 2006

Campaign to reduce wastage of plastic shopping bags

The campaign as launched on Saturday, 11 February 2006 at Parkway Parade.

At 8am, Weisong, Chenkee, Yueat Tin and I went down to Parkway Parade with RMBR newsletters and museum roundtable brochures. We were met by the team of girls from the RGS green club with their teacher Beng Chiak representing both NSS and RGS. The girls were earlier than us, with plastic bags already decorating our panels. Our school booths were also bustling with activity.

Before and after

It worried us for a while that our booth lacked half our titles and had no panels. The panel was 1 hour late but eventually arrived to our relief. Yueat Tin brought her laptop and customized a ICCS presentation to autorun at the booth.

Luckily, as promised by the organizers NEA, our titles were delivered minutes before the guest of honor, Dr Yacob Ibrahim, arrived and Weisong, the tall one in the group, kindly put it up for us.

The morning was very successful as most of the crowds were students and teachers who were participating in the launch and were very interested in the issue of marine trash caused by plastics. Many were interested in participating in ICCS, and organizing talks for their schools. However, other booths with games and free giveaways were decidedly more popular than ours. This could possibly be something we could look into next time. Books were also very popular as when the guest of honor visited our booth, A/P Simon Tay, the chairman of NEA, picked up the Chek Jawa guidebook sold by NSS and decided to buy a copy after browsing! On the other hand, SEC sold out their books within minutes of being swarmed by teachers.

Our booth design was also one of the cleanest, tidiest, yet informative one. The idea of using panels was convenient not just for setting up but presentation is clear and attractive. More would come to the booth if the set up was more interactive with quizzes, or things for people to do at our booth. Of course, more than ever, we realize the usefulness of the namecard we printed for Giving Tree as we did not have them this round, we felt their absence more.

Having a booth right beside NEA's was also useful as it gave us much chance to give feedback to them and learn qutie a bit more about plastic recycling. For example, plastic bags can actually be recycled by putting them in recycling bin, they will be collected. In fact, as long as any plastic bottles that are cleaned and not contaminated is recyclable. There were also much of an issue that reusable bags were being given out in plastic bags and NEA received due feedback.

Still, this is a good attempt by NEA and now if you see this sign at any of the supermarkets involved or any of the shops in Parkway Parade, you will know they are a participating outlet. During the launch, reusable bags printed with each of the supermarket's unique design was also given away. Sadly, the hypermart Giant that was in Parkway Parade was not a participating supermarket.

Pledge to use reusable bag or less plastic bags today!