On the first Saturday of September, BYOB organised our first outreach session. My team and I decided to cover drinks stalls around Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 and its surrounding areas. The idea of having to go up and approach the stallholders was a little intimidating for us! We weren’t sure about how they might react to being approached, and anticipated being turned down because of low awareness of ‘bring-your-own’ (BYO) initiatives. Some of my teammates’ Mandarin-speaking skills were also put to the test! However, once we were met with a couple of positive responses in the beginning, we were more encouraged to speak to the rest. Most of the stall holders were very friendly and open to the idea of having a sticker placed at their stall. It also seemed as though many were familiar with the concept of BYO.
One stall holder, when approached, said that stickers may not be the best way encourage awareness and change in behaviour, and that directly approaching hawker centre patrons and diners would be more effective. She also mentioned that the most she can do about this matter is to implement an additional charge of 10 cents for take-away packaging, but she has only ever seen around 10 people bring along their own bottles or containers. This made me, personally, think about whether deterrence measures (implementing costs on single-use items) are the only way to encourage diners to bring their own reusable containers. Additionally, she mentioned that it would be very difficult to persuade the main demographic of diners, the elderly, to bring their own bottles and containers because of old habits and convenience. To our surprise, we did see one patron who had brought along a couple of her own bottles to purchase drinks, which was very heartening to see as it showed us that there is still a small minority of the population passionate about reducing their use of single-use plastics. Over the period of our outreach session, we bought drinks from some of these stallholders and used our own reusable bottles. Their willingness to let us use our own bottles was encouraging, as one stallholder even said she’d be happier if everyone brought their own bottles, so she wouldn’t have to wash her glass mugs!
Overall, it was a very fruitful first outreach session for us, and the first step to encouraging consumers to think about bringing their own reusable bottles instead of using disposables for their drinks.
– Preeti Kale, BYOB Outreach Team