Venue: Singapore Flyer, Chingay Parade Route Section D, E, F
Day, Date: Friday 3rd February and Saturday 4th February
Time: 3.30pm to 8.30pm
After almost every major large scale event held in Singapore, organisers are faced with filthy and unsightly event sites, which eventually become the responsibility of the cleaners. To tackle this issue, the “Dunk it” initiative was introduced by ECO Singapore, during the National Day Parade in 2006.
On 3rd and 4th February, ECO Singapore engaged a total of 70 volunteers aged between 13 years old to 47 years old to reach out to the public to spread environmental awareness and the anti-littering message. Based on a total of 6 hours that they spent outside on both days, the passionate volunteers have managed to reach out to at least 206 members of the public to participate in the short surveys and at least 125 people to participate in the Million Acts of Green programme. Both these activities will be explained later.
Volunteers were involved in 3 main engagement activities targeted at raising awareness and encouraging the public to take action to protect the environment;
- Recording their Green Practices as a means to inspire others as part of the Million Acts of Green programme.
- Giving out ‘Thank You’ collaterals to members of the public who bin their litter as a means of rewarding good behaviour.
- Answering a short 5 questions survey that will test their environmental awareness.
Before the event, a briefing was held at Grid MMS at *Scape, on Monday 30th January, to teach volunteers how to carry out their tasks most meaningfully and to convince them of the intention and spirit behind the Dunk It! Initiative.
Besides ECO Singapore’s briefing, staffs from the National Environmental Agency’s Central Regional Office also came down to talk more on the new Anti-Littering campaign which was launched in 2010. Find the article here
Also, they touched on the 2006’s ‘Singapore Litter-Free’ campaign which includes the guidelines for Litter-Free Public Outdoor Events initiative: Briefly “In a litter-free event, the event organizer would encourage participants and spectators alike to make a conscious effort to take away all their rubbish with them and deposit the rubbish in the litterbins provided. Event organizers are encouraged to implement the following initiatives at their events:- Provide adequate and sufficient facilities to aid the proper disposal of unwanted items; and Make/ display messages to communicate, promote, and remind the audience/ participants to take ownership of their unwanted items and make the event ‘litter-free’, and (Optional) Conduct interactive activities to encourage/ motivate the public to keep the event venue clean.” Source here. Thus NEA works with grassroots organisations to help implement these activities at community events.
And so, with ECO Singapore’s Dunk It! Initiative, the Chingay Parade organiser’s interest to make this a litter-free event, as well as NEA’s advocacy on their Anti-Littering campaign, these three organisations worked on a mission with the objectives set out below. Of course, all these will not have been possible if not for the support and enthusiasm of the volunteers who were involved.
The main objectives of this year’s Dunk It!@ Chingay 2012 is:
- Help youths crystallise their environmental concern into meaningful action.
- Encourage the public to dispose of their trash properly
- Empower youths to influence the public to do their part in protecting our environment.
Volunteers started to arrive at the Singapore Flyer at 3.30pm. After reporting their attendance, volunteers were given the logistics and a brief recap on their duties. Finally, they were ready to set off to their respective zones and start the activities!
Volunteers approached the public to ask them to share a green act that they have done. The objective of this activity is for the public to share with others simple actions that they can do to contribute to the environment. After the event, all photos were uploaded onto the ECO Singapore Fan Page, click here for 3rd February pictures and here for 4th February pictures, so that people can learn from each other about other simple actions they can do in their daily lives that would help in protecting the environment.
Volunteers gave out badges which wrote “Thank You for not littering” whenever they met people who dispose of their trash properly. The objective of this activity is to encourage the public to not litter as volunteers openly thank people who do not litter. It is to thank the public for doing the right thing and have the public help us spread the anti littering message through the use of the badges.
There were also handphone straps. One on side is a cute monster figure which comes in three different colours; green, white and brown. On the other side is a handphone wipe which users can use to clean their handphone screens.
Additionally, this year, NEA also provided Mosquito Wipes with information on Dengue Alerts to Residents through SMS (D.A.R.T.S) which was launched at the Central Singapore Clean and Green Carnival, November 2011. “..D.A.R.T.S is a dengue prevention awareness programme for Central Singapore residents that leverages on the ubiquity and convenience of mobile phones to alert residents on the presence of dengue clusters in Central Singapore district through SMS notifications. This service is completely free and residents can subscribe to it by sending an SMS with the details “Darts, Name, Address, Postal Code” to 9240 7998. This initiative introduced by NEA Central Regional Office and Central Singapore CDC also serves as an additional platform to raise awareness on dengue prevention and complements all existing efforts to fight dengue on the ground.” Source here.
Volunteers approach the public to try out the questionnaire consisting of 5 questions. The objective of the questionnaire is to help us gain a better understanding about the environmental knowledge of the public. This helps ECO Singapore in planning future events by taking a targeted approach towards the areas that the public is lacking in. Volunteers also went through the answers with the public after they have done the questionnaire and this helps to strengthen the environmental knowledge of the public.
Aside from the 29 Surveys which could not be tabulated due to missing information, the 70 volunteers had gathered 206 surveys over the total period of 6 hours. As seen here, a bulk of the people interviewed were in the age group of 13-55, and this makes up 84% of people of the total number of people who participated in the survey.
A few highlights:
- Generally, looking at the total number of right and wrong answers, out of the 206 answers, we can see that most of them answered Question 3 correctly. (174 right/206 ) 84% of people who were interviewed know that Pulau Semakau is an Offshore Landfill.
- On the other hand, Question 5 was done quite poorly. (93 wrong/ 206). 45% of interviewees got this question wrong. While it is true that is 2008, Food Waste in Singapore was under 20% of the Total Waste Produced, Source here, at 12%.. and it is still under 20% in 2010, it has in fact been increasing. In 2010, the percentage rose to 16%. Source here.
General volunteer sentiment is that this has been a meaningful and fun, albeit tiring experience.
Vanessa Chung: Dunk IT!, on the other hand, was a whole different experience because it allowed me to put my concerns and passion for the environment into actual action instead of mere lip service.
Toh Chin Foong: In conclusion, we feel more accomplished after the project as we know that this little effort of ours has made the world a slightly better place.
Read the full reflections by Vanessa, Chin Foong as well as Michelle and Bin Ling here.
Areas of improvement
For this particular event, lots of it had to do with timing.
The time that the volunteers were out in force was around 4.30pm to 7.30pm. On hindsight, we could have pushed it 2 hours later and go for a 6.30pm to 9.30pm programme. The thing was, we initially thought it would be good to let the volunteers do the activities in the late afternoon during the pre-parade activities so that it would be easier for them to talk to people who would not still be rushing. However this was not a good idea, because the crowd only came in late evening.
So crowd engagement wise, although of a quality because it allowed the volunteers to really speak to members of the public, it was not the type of quantity we expected. Assuming 10 groups of 3 volunteers, and a goal of 20 surveys per team for that 3 hours duration each day, we could have reached out to 200 people per day, based on surveys alone.
Also, because the pre and post litter auditing programme was done at 5pm and 7pm respectively when the crowd was not in yet, there was not much difference, or in most cases, no litter at all for both timings. Say, if we had done it at 7.30, just before the parade started and 9.30, just before it ended, it would perhaps have made a drastic different. And this is particularly so because the bins were located quite far from each other.
ECO Singapore would like to thank the National Environment Agency (NEA), especially their Central Regional Office for their support since Day 1 of this event. From the timeline guide, collection of shirts, collaterals for the public and training for the volunteers.