Soaps, Schools, Shiva, and Surveys (June 13 and 14)

A wonderful lady I met at *SCAPE last week called today and we set up a meeting for next week. She works for a company that sells green cleaning products and is interested in contributing both her volunteer time and her company’s products (as free gift incentives) for the project!

Also managed to get a meeting with my National Youth Council mentor’s contact at the NEA for next week! I’ll be talking to him about the possibility of using a hawker centre as the site of my project.

These past two days, I’ve been reaching out to quite a few schools (not my own alma mater because it’ll be closed during the project period) as well as to SCWO and AWARE, adapting the project to work in both types of settings.

For the schools, I emphasized instilling environmental responsibility in young people and encouraging environmentally-minded behaviour. For SCWO and AWARE, I spoke about ecofeminism* and the importance of incorporating environmental responsibility into organization cultures.
*The idea that exploitation of the earth and exploitation of women are interconnected. The contributions that women make and the contributions that natural resources make to society are both not recognized by the dominant capitalist-reductionist patriarchal worldview. Both women and the earth are victims of the oppressive forces of that worldview. Listen to trailblazing ecofeminist Dr Vandana Shiva’s talks at Vassar here!

SCWO replied warmly almost right away, but said that they already use proper plates and cutlery for their events (yay!). Their partner café also uses eco-friendly disposables when it has to (yay again!). This is great news, but it also means I’m going to have to keep casting the net wider for my project.

School #1 got back to me the day after I contacted them, saying that they love the project, but they only operate one of their canteens, which is the one for their boarding school. Most people dine in at the canteen and they don’t use disposable boxes for sandwiches, cold meals etc., and staff usually use their own reusable containers already when they need to take away (I really hope this is true!). Again, this is great to hear, but not that great for securing a backup plan.

Still with the hope that Food Court Operator C will give me the green light (pun entirely intended…), I finished designing the stallholder survey today, in Chinese and in English. A big thank you to NUSSU SAVE for sharing their survey designs and experiences! I’ve also drafted a customer survey for use in the near future.

(a few hours later…)
I just hit the smallest outlet of Food Court Operator C,  and managed to casually speak to about six of the eight stallholders about their takeaway packaging (with permission from the initially wary but friendly branch manager).

Preliminary surveying was really very fun :). Some stallholders were pretty amused, haha. One was extremely busy and I had to improvise and condense my survey into one question, yelling (politely!) over a counter: “你们一天大概用几个塑料杯子?”

Overall, I found out that the ordering of disposables and all the finances relating to disposables are ultimately taken care of by the management of Food Court Operator C, which certainly streamlines things in terms of communication. What must be noted is that all the takeaway materials are printed with Operator C’s logo and some materials I observed were outside the range of products that Bio-composite Products Manufacturer #2’s catalogue displays. However, I was very glad to see that most stalls already used paper boxes rather than Styrofoam boxes.

In any case, I now have some approximate numbers that I can summarize and try to make some sense of for Bio-composite Products Manufacturer #2!

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