"How to Inspire and Engage the Community in Solving Our Waste Crisis" Workshop

How to Inspire and Engage the Community in Solving Our Waste Crisis


24 November 2012: The workshop was run by Andy Lipkis the Founder of TreePeople in Los Angeles and Prof Jonathan Wong of HK Baptist University. It focused on how to motivate people to separate waste to enable greater recycling.

Though a combination of games, briefings and group discussions it lead to the conclusion that feedback, incentives and innovation are critical to getting members of the community to engage in an activity which improves a 'common good' such as waste separation.

Notes on the workshop

The workshop kicked off by an ice-breaking game called "Environmental Bingo". Each participant got a piece of paper with 5x5 squares each of which contained an environmental action. Participants had told ask others whether they perform the action in daily life. For example:

- Does someone who switch off lights when leave a room?
- Does someone separate waste for recycling at home?

They then write down the name of the person on the square. Participants who completed a row, a column, or a tilted line win the game.

After the game, Prof Jonathan Wong gave us some facts on waste management in HK. Our government targets a 55% recycling rate by 2015 to reduce the amount of rubbish disposed of in landfills. The amount of waste generation is, however, increasing. The last landfill at Nim Wan is expected to be saturated in 2018. The government planned to implement waste to energy incineration to reduce the amount of waste.

Andy Lipkis said lifestyle change is needed for long-term commitments such as working reduce waste at source. He asked how this can be achieved. His answer is that people are motivated if they see that what they do really makes a difference! Giving feedback to people is very important. For example with water conservation in Los Angeles, newspapers can show the amount of water citizens have reduced. Over the years the population of LA has increased but less water is now consumed in LA. And you have to let people know they will suffer from what human beings are now doing, otherwise no one is willing to stand up and do something.

Andy Lipkis also said we have to implement this change as a community with each person being motivated by what others do.

Breakout Session

The following questions were discussed in groups and some ideas from different groups are as follow:

- How to carry out a campaign for all of Hong Kong to reduce waste by 20%?
- How to engage the 2 million youth residents of Hong Kong?
- How to engage local government district councils?

A teacher from KG5 said she taught students without books or paper, all by listening, talking and discussion. And organize activities which kids enjoy playing to promote the message. Our group thought higher material living standards do not equate to a better quality of life. We also thought it is important to relate proposed actions with money to motivate more people.

About Andy Lipkis: click here
About Prof Jonathan Wong:click here