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Zero Waste Bootcamp| How 5 youth-led initiatives created meaningful impact in Singapore

By SecondGuru

Posters depicting the impact of 5 latest Bootcamp projects is on display in a “traveling exhibition” across public spaces in Singapore to spur youth and members of the community to come together to take collective action. It is making its rounds in the National Library branches till September, 2021. Pictures here.

When we launched our flagship outreach program, the Zero Waste Bootcamps (ZWB), we had hoped for, but could not have foreseen, the magnitude of its impact. Launched in 2019 in alignment with Singapore’s “Year Towards Zero Waste”, the objective of ZWB is fairly simple- to encourage environmental stewardship amongst youth and to equip them with skills and knowledge to embrace a zero-waste lifestyle.Through a series of dedicated projects with a running period of 12-16 weeks, ZWB creates opportunities for Singapore youth to collaborate and unleash their collective energies towards volunteering towards environmental and social causes. Why only the young? Because, we genuinely believe that they are the future leaders we need to shape today for a more sustainable tomorrow. Our 2019 edition with 4 bootcamps saw active participation of over 80 people , and now with the 5th bootcamp in 2020, our alumni now number 100+. This combined cohort has organized 35 community events and forged 50 update collaborations with their eco-partners… sparking more than 3000 conversations in a cascading impact! A big big shout out for the power of young and mighty in our Little Red Dot.

It was a delight to work closely with these eco-warriors through the different stages of the bootcamps – beginning from context setting, to see them brainstorm and come up with some amazing targeted solutions to a range of eco-issues, to their constant endeavor to fine tune their plans and iron out all possible wrinkles, and to finally proudly present their journey with all its challenges and achievements. As mentors, we too got to learn so much from our young flag bearers for a greener planet. Their passion, their dedication , their action-oriented approach is what makes us so excited for our next bootcamp kickstarting in July/August 2021

Want to know more about this bi-annual bootcamp’s format? Simply click here. To sign up, complete this registration of interest form. Mail us at if you have any questions. We will be in touch with the dates soon.

The 5th Zero Waste Bootcamp (ZWB 5)| 21 youth, 5 projects, An art exhibition!

Our 5th Zero Waste Bootcamp -Nov 2020 to March 2021- edition was a mix of virtual and physical segments owing to Covid, but it retained the essence of community-centric outreach achieving the dual goal of environmentally and socially sustainable projects. 21 youth worked in 5 teams to actively address an eco and social sustainability issue identified by a not-for-profit organisation and Secondsguru. Once the projects wrapped up, the journey of the 5 teams was converted to conversational posters by a professional artist, Mr Omar Anuar Sheikh, from Malaysia. The posters are not only pleasing to the eyes but are also impactful- Thanks Omar!

Why an Art Exhibition?

1. Well, each project was crafted and executed carefully by the respective team as deftly as an artist creates a piece of art.

2. We have noticed that sharing real examples by real people is an impactful way to get more to join the environment sustainability and social sustainability movement.

In this article, we highlight all of the teams and projects from the #ZWB5 so you get a broad view of the scope of issues which were addressed:

Team Otterly Eco

Otterly Eco is a team of five – Shreya Soota, Alfieana Alphonso, Alsofiena Alphonso, Airashi Dutta and Monica Chan – that chose to create awareness about prevalent waterway pollution in Singapore due to irresponsible waste disposal habits. They partnered with Passion WaVe to meet their objective of cleansing coastal trash and organized a series of activities over 8 weeks. With a name that acknowledges love for Singapore’s favourite waterway family, they organized 5 cleanups at Marina Bay reservoir, organized a mini Kayak’n’Klean event (where the participants collected 25.2 kg trash in just 1.5 hours) and even leveraged the social media with their Eco Lifestyle Bingo Challenge. The crowning achievements (other than meeting the famed otters at a cleanup!) were the informative videos like this one! they created on actionables to overcome water pollution – these can be viewed on PAssion Wave’s official channel on FB and Instagram!

Team SoleHow

Meet team SoleHow- Gwyneth Teo, Joice Tjen, Rachel Lee, and Venetia Ho – a team of working adults who took time out from their professional lives to contribute towards environmental causes in their individual capacity. For this they joined hands with Soles4Souls – a US-based non-profit organisation which diverts used but usable-condition shoes and clothes away from landfills to marginalised communities and micro enterprises. Team SoleHow supported their non-profit partner by organising a public collection drive, increasing social media engagement and creating connections with new potential partners. The fact that the drive was covered by 3 local digital news media outlets highlights the importance and need for viable places to donate, upcycle, or recycle used personal belongings in Singapore. Additionally, the team achieved the impressive task of garnering 100 man hours, contributed by 40 volunteers over a week, and collected a whooping 9,090kg of donated items. That’s 5.5 loads of 14ft lorries full of gently used clothes and shoes prevented from going to waste!

Team Foodamental

Heng Su Li, Sharon Lim, Karen Chan and Megha Jayaram got together to form team Foodmental. Their target – to create awareness about and address the issue of food waste in Singapore. How? They partnered with Food from the Heart (FFTH) to increase the reach of their #GivingRight campaign and organised two food collection drives – a public one at Our Tampines Hub and a private one at a company office. Over the course of their project they also ran social media campaigns and shared posters for donations of safe and appropriate food (food which is not expired or too bulky to distribute), following which they conducted two donation drives. Apart from the amount of food they collected, the most significant outcome of their campaign was that the donations from the private office contained zero unsuitable food and a high proportion of the food items were donated in packs of appropriate sizes, making them reachable to maximum beneficiaries. With their awareness efforts Team Foodmental was able to achieve maximum items in line with their wish list and created recognition of private office building as high potential venue and donation partners for suitable and safe food.

Team Face Palm

A cohort of multi-taskers – Sherill Neo, Kede Huang, Xinru and Chow Yan Hui Verity – formed team Face Palm. As the name suggests, the environmental issue this group decided to tackle was palm oil, an ingredient so commonly used in the Food & Beverage industry but with so little awareness and information around its environmental impact and sustainable alternatives. To address this knowledge gap, team Face Palm worked with People’s Movement for Haze (PM Haze). In a drive which was completely run on social media, they developed surveys, planned fun quizzes , held informal conversations about palm oil with F&B industry insiders and general public, and analysed survey results to develop insights. With a campaign which made its impact felt by generating informal and informative conversation around palm oil and spreading awareness about its sustainable alternative -RSPO palm oil- the team has set off what will hopefully become the starting point of lasting change. What’s more, PM Haze plans to use this strategy on their website to better understand the awareness of website visitors and then develop resources for public engagement and education.

Palm to Palm

Not all impact is immediate. Some contributions add up to cumulatively impact a global issue. That is team Palm to Palm, namely Cindy Lin, Shanta Arul and, Hean Lee, for you. In partnership with PM Haze, this group of young environment enthusiasts decided to convince Singapore eateries to use sustainably-sourced palm oil and create awareness about the transboundary haze crisis in Singapore. During the course of their project, Shanta, from the team participated in PM Haze’s Haze Free Food Stand campaign at City Sprouts and reached out to “socially conscious” eateries for conversation on the environmental impact of unsustainably sourced palm oil. Taking cue from the challenges of engaging F&B outlets, the team recalibrated to create a Business Starter kit – a very useful resource that PM Haze intends to use going forward. This Business Starter Kit is a digestible infographic communication directed at restaurants and eateries in Singapore; it is a resource support for the Haze Free Food Stand campaign.

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