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Archive for March, 2009

Nee Soon East RC Zone 1- our next target for GREASE-ycle. With Chung Cheng High Yishun in charge of Chong Pang RC Zone 7, we decided that Yishun Primary School could be in charge of Nee Soon East RC Zone 7, and thus today, 28 Primary 4 students and 2 Project GREASE members, Samantha Soong and Yujin, went down to survey households on their interest in participating in GREASE-ycle, as well as their method of UCO disposal.

Admittedly, there were some doubts as to whether it was safe and feasible for 10 year old children to survey the households, however, these fears were soon proven to be unfounded. Mrs Amy Ong had planned for today in great detail, even going so far as to put on a skit with another teacher, acting as a petrified little P4 and a fierce, unwilling resident respectively the day before. All the necessary paper work and materials had also been prepared beforehand, and the procedure drilled into the children.

We met at 9am in YPS, where Mrs Ong gave a briefing on the procedure once more, and the students seemed relatively prepared. We were hoping to cover 16 blocks in 3 hours, which we later realised was too ambitious.

Mrs Ong giving reminders to the P4s!

Mrs Ong giving reminders to the P4s!

Mrs Ong even drew out the layout of the 16 blocks

Mrs Ong even drew out the layout of the 16 blocks

The P4s were paired up and assigned a group number. This group number corresponded with floor level number they will cover. The teachers and us were the supervisors- ensuring all the children were with us, as well as montering/following some pairs from time to time.

Perhaps many might think- 10 year old children? Will they be able to convey the message to the households? (admittedly not a simple one- besides asking households how they dispose of their UCO, and educating them if they are incorrect, they also have to apply persuasive power to get households to agree to participate)

But children never fail to surprise. Samantha followed 2-3 pairs around, and was extremely IMPRESSED by their linguistic ability. For example, pair number 12- it was enjoyable following them, both being such nice and sweet girls. They were confident and spoke fluently. 1 was Indian, and Samantha followed her to do a Tamil household. An Indian lady opened the door. Samantha expected her to speak in English- since there had been no Tamil script prepared, but the little girl, spoke in an extremely adorable voice impromptuly, in fluent and confident Tamil. The lady’s began to smile- she smiled throughout whole conversation and willingly agreed to participate. Her partner was no worse; persuaively speaking to another household in english, getting them to participate. Samantha was particularly impressed by this pair, and wondered if at p4 she could speak like that to strangers…

The 2 girls spoke persuasively and fluently

The girl spoke Tamil persuasively and fluently

Her partner was just as eloquent

Her partner was just as eloquent

Knocking on the door

Knocking on the door

Introducing GREASE-ycle

Introducing GREASE-ycle

An agreeable household!

An agreeable household!

Recording units of households
Recording units of households

We only managed to cover 9 out of the 16 blocks in Nee Soon East RC Zone 1 today, as the young children were understandably exhausted. Mrs Ong will mobilise another group of P4s next Saturday to finish up surveying all the households.

Who thinks today was meaningful?

Who thinks today was meaningful?

Group shot!

Group shot!

It was very enjoyable interacting with the young children- a very different experience from holding conversations with adults indeed! Their high level of energy was contagious, and their sweet and winning smiles made us coo SO CUTE! umpteen number of times. The numbers of agreeable households will soon be collated. 🙂

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We met with a challenge on our 2nd oil collection- with Project BARAY unable to help this time, and 2 of our members unable to make it, Project GREASE was faced with a serious manpower shortage! Thankfully, we managed to rope in 2 of our juniors and some extremely kind RC volunteers (with the help of Miss Estina, one of the RC volunteers) to solve this problem.

This time, unlike the last, we collected the oil early in the morning starting at 8am. Most Project GREASE members paired up individually with a RC volunteer, and went around the households collecting oil.

A RC volunteer who lives in the area adding on her share of UCO

A RC volunteer who lives in the area adding on her share of UCO

A resident adding on his share of UCO

A resident adding on his share of UCO

And more UCO!

And more UCO!

Spot the bottle!

Spot the bottle!

Samantha and her RC "aunty", and their harvest

Samantha and her RC "aunty", and their harvest

The juniors who helped us

The juniors who helped us

With the help of everybody, we managed to finish in a mere 2.5 hours- an impressive feat! We collected a total of 9 and a half full bottles of oil. The amount of oil collected, though less than the last collection drive (14 full bottles), is still considerably large. The oil was then transported to Chung Cheng High Yishun.

Our accomplishment!

Our accomplishment!

The next oil collection date is on 4th April, which the students of Chung Cheng High Yishun will be involved in. We will be conducting a soap-making workshop for residents in the area on 18th April.

Workshop poster in the RC

Workshop poster in the RC

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1 yr ago, on the 17th of March 2008, Project GREASE’s project proposal was approved and we were given the green light to embark on this FABULOUS and EXCITING journey. Looking back, Project GREASE is proud and grateful of all we have achieved and learnt from each other through the course of this 1 year. We will never forget the times we shared together and all the experiences we have had together.  Not forgetting our fabulous, generous, fun and always-ready-to-help teacher mentor MRS LEE! 😀

Happy 1st Birthday Project GREASE! 🙂

Project GREASE

Project GREASE

How can birthdays pass without a BIG BLAST celebration? Project GREASE met up at in the evening of 17th March at Yujin’s house to hold a birthday party! Much thanks to Yujin’s parents for accomodating us (and our noise). Yujin’s house is a fabulous place to hold a party! It’s really pretty and spacious. Sadly, Brenda and Jiayi were unable to make it.

Samanthas' heart. Half Sam Lee's and half Samantha Soong's. Pretty, isn't it?

Samanthas' heart. Half Sam Lee's and half Samantha Soong's. Pretty, isn't it? Taken outside Yujin's house

The gathering started off with Project GREASErs sitting in Yujin’s room and catching up with one another, making a whole load of noise, and a whole load of attempts on Talia’s flute. Looks like Project GREASE is full of potential flautists. 🙂 Next, we had dinner prepared by Yujin’s mummy! It was very yummy, haha.  (IT RHYMES! XD) We ate and talked, laughing over each other’s less-than-glamorous eating habits as well as other embarrassing incidents.

What a spread!

What a spread!

Sam Lee, Yujia and Talia
Sam Lee, Yujia and Talia
Yujin, Samantha, Gloria

Yujin, Samantha, Gloria

Helping ourselves to the food

Helping ourselves to the food

Next,  we had a great session of doing random things. We played Yujin’s piano, played Talia’s flute, sang Happy Birthday while Talia played the piano, danced ballroom dances (brought back great memories of our dancing lessons!) and sat around, reading newspapers while screaming in laughter over hilarous weightlosing ads and talking loudly. 😀 We even squashed a fly. (ok, this is random. picture of the squashed fly will not be posted in case we incur any bug lover’s wrath ><)

We had a chocolate birthday cake, sponsored by Yujin’s parents! It was REALLY chocolate-y. yumyum.
Doesn't it make your mouth water?

Doesn't it make your mouth water?

Together shot!

Together shot!

HI-YAT! Attempting to cut the cake with our bare hands

HI-YAT! Attempting to cut the cake with our bare hands

But nobody wanted to dirty their hands...

But nobody wanted to dirty their hands...

Gloria enjoys the cake

Gloria enjoys the cake

It was an extremely enjoyable party, and before we knew it, it was already 9pm! We were very sad that the party had to end. 😦 The bonds of friendships we have formed because of Project GREASE are so strong and lasting, we will always remain friends forever! Long live Project GREASE! 😀 Even though the next 1-2 months may be tiring due to our upcoming SYFs (7 out of 8 of us are from Performing Arts CCAs), we know that we have each other to turn to for support in times of stress and anxiety. We will love each other forever!

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After the considerably successful workshop with Yishun Primary, the day’s agenda was not over yet! Project GREASE made their way down to Chong Pang RC Zone 7 to leave oil collection slips in the mailboxes, thanking residents for their participation and reminding them of the next UCO collection date. Mrs Lee drove half of our group there, while the rest made their way down by public transport. The journey there was undoubtedly enjoyable, with Project GREASE-rs driving Mrs Lee crazy with their lame puns (ahem ahem. “Mrs Lee…I’m speechless! SPEECH DAY! Please come!” in which Mrs Lee yelled “TALIA!!! That’s so silly! Now I can’t park because of you!” in response)

Mrs Lee drives safely. CAR-rage is not required XD

Mrs Lee drives safely. CAR-rage is not required XD

Project GREASE covered all 18 blocks by ourselves, acting like postmen. (Another reason to join Project GREASE! You’ll lose weight in no time, as well as develop strong leg muscles!)

Postman Gloria!

Postman Gloria!

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When we were finally done, we made our way down to Sun Plaza, where generous Mrs Lee treated us to a YUMMY dinner, at some Hong Kong restaurant. 😀 MRS LEE WAN SUI! It was a fruitful time of bonding and sharing.

Yujia's extremely important decision- what should I eat for dinner?

Yujia's extremely important decision- what should I eat for dinner?

Papaya soup...anyone?

Papaya soup...anyone?

Talia's food looks good

Talia's food looks good

Mrs Lee's food does too!

Mrs Lee's food does too!

Thank you Mrs Lee for that fabulous dinner! It totally revived our spirits! Eventful days ending with bonding sessions like this are AWESOME!

On a side note, PROJECT GREASE’S BIRTHDAY IS IN 5 DAYS TIME. (The day we first received a confirmation we could embark on this project) A CAKE of SOAP, anyone? Remember it’s on 17th March!

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On the 11th of March, Wednesday, Project GREASE took some time off from our school activities and made their way to Yishun Primary school to do a mass workshop for 70 teachers. While Yishun Primary has kindly arranged the workshop for these 70 teachers to personally enrich themselves, in the hope that they can eventually apply soap-making to their daily lives, the school has simultaneously agreed to be yet another proud Green Club involved in GREASE-ycle. In fact, the entire Primary 4 level will be incorporated into GREASE-ycle as part of their service-learning project, as both UCO collectors and soap-makers.

The workshop started at around 1pm in the Art Room of Yishun Primary, with approximately 70 teachers waiting with wide-eyed anticipation as we proceeded. As the bulk of us – 5 out of 8, to be exact – all had school activities to finish before 1pm and could not help with the preparations, Talia, Sam and Jiayi very kindly arranged to meet in school some 3 hours beforehand, cab over to Chung Cheng High Yishun to drop off some 30 litres of oil we collected on Saturday, then finally venture to our official destination of the day – Yishun Primary – to make the necessary workshop arrangements. (by the way, that includes measuring 70 glasses of oil and water, distributing all materials and seeing that the IT tools for the pre-workshop presentation are in working order!) Much thanks to Brenda as well, who had to go through the immense trouble of journeying back to school prior to the workshop to collect some 3 more litres of oil, as the amount provided by the teachers of Yishun Primary were a little less than we expected. We sincerely would not have managed to start this workshop on time without the help of these very helpful and selfless Project GREASE-rs. (:

The workshop officially commenced when Mrs Amy Ong, Project GREASE’s very responsible and reliable channel with Yishun Primary all along, gave a brief opening address to all her colleagues about the service-learning projects her students would be taking up this year, in a bid to nurture in them a genuine interest to serve community.

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Our dear Mrs Ong with the mike – and my, my, could she be describing us modest GREASE-rs up there?

(all right, we hereby disclaim that was a bad joke)

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After that, Yu-Jia from Project GREASE gave a short presentation to all the teachers about our project as a whole, GREASE-ycle as well as oil purification methods.

With that, Talia took over and the soap-making demonstration and hands-on officially kicked off!

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Teachers buzzing about like excited little children! (:

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Check out the sheer number of teachers present in the art room! It was really the largest number of participants Project GREASE has ever had at just a single place, making the workshop that day somewhat harder to coordinate than what we were used to. Nevertheless, it was an enlightening experience that we all learnt from, and a hearty challenge we embraced and enjoyed!  (:

We sincerely hope the teachers enjoyed the experience too – which, judging from the photos we took, we think they did!p05

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Do mine eyes deceive me? Is that green soap we see?!p06

Due to a relevant concern several teachers raised, Project GREASE saw that the used cooking oil these Muslim teachers used were strictly halal.

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Needless to say, we Project GREASE-rs were literally kept on our toes – and busy as bees at that – throughout the workshop.

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Check out the beautiful results one very creative teacher yielded! She had gone around requesting for her colleagues to donate her a little of their soap mixtures, hence the vivid, double-layered multi-colouredness.  

Behind every successful workshop, there will, indisputably, always be X amounts of preparations we have to see to. Following the same line of reasoning, after every successful workshop there will always be Y amount of washing up to do – all this, we have already accepted as a natural part of life.

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Eek! We wouldn’t have managed to finish the washing-up within 30 minutes if not for the help of several extremely considerate teachers, though (:

And that was the end of our soap-making workshop! Of course, there were more details to iron out with Yishun Primary. Project GREASE, along with teacher-mentor Mrs Lee, met with Ms Emily Tan from North West CDC and Mrs Amy Ong thereafter for an extremely late lunch (at 3pm), also for an opportunity for further discussion.

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Mrs Amy Ong holding our rapt attention. Yes Ma’am, at your service!

The meeting could be summed up in several words: enjoyable, for the yummy lunch Mrs Ong kindly bought for us (there was fried CHICKEN and Project GREASE will be going to Mi-CHICKEN :P); and productive, for the many details we managed to iron out. Yishun Primary seemed enthusiastic and raring to begin, North West CDC was all too happy to oblige/provide, and of course, we as Project GREASErs were over the moon that GREASEycle has started on a very promising note. Yishun Primary will most probably be in charge of collecting UCO on a regular basis from the new RC proposed by NW CDC. Indeed, we look forward to our partnership with Yishun Primary and further collaboration with NW CDC in the very near future. (:

Of course, every blog post (almost!) wouldn’t be a proper one without a final group photo, characterized by all our happy smiling faces.

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Lo and behold! (Ms Emily Tan is absent from the photo as she had to leave earlier)

We’re truly grateful to Mrs Amy Ong for being one of the most patient, cheerful, enthusiastic and sporting people Project GREASE has had the good fortune to work with – duly obliging to our every request, logistics-wise, to ease our burdens; seeing that our welfare, so to speak, was taken care of by providing us lunch; and always providing us with encouraging words of advice.  We’d also like to give much thanks to our dear teacher-mentor, Mrs Lee, as well as Ms Emily Tan from North West CDC, both for taking time off their busy schedules to be down for the workshop and subsequently, the discussion later.

Speaking from a Project GREASEr’s point of view, it’s sincerely heartening not just being able to personally effect change, but more importantly, mobilize, motivate or even inspire others to effect that same positive change, all in light of a common meaningful cause. We genuinely hope that Yishun Primary will eventually take it upon themselves to spearhead GREASE-ycle, because ultimately – pardon the cliche, it’s true! – the environment belongs to everyone, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t take ownership of protecting it.

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Today, the 7th of March, is a significant milestone for Project GREASE indeed. It marks the start of our six-month pilot used cooking oil (UCO) collection drive as part of GREASE-ycle, an initiative held in collaboration with Northwest Community Development Council (CDC) to encourage households to recycle used cooking oil into soap.

Kickstarted by the household participation survey two weeks ago, our UCO collection drive will officially be ongoing at Chong Pang Resident’s Committee (RC) Zone 7 from blocks 300 to 320 every 2 weeks on Saturdays till August.

After a morning workshop with Chung Cheng High School (Yishun), hungry Project GREASE members made their way to Far East for lunch! After that, we set off to Chong Pang RC Zone 7.

Oyster Mee Suah is fabulous!

Oyster Mee Suah is fabulous!

Today, we are proud to announce that 7 pairs of us took a total of just 2 mere hours – and, by the way, walking from door to door, block to block, carrying heavy filled containers while ringing doorbells to collect UCO from residents is no mean feat! Much thanks to NUS Rotaract Club who came down to help us, without whom we would not have completed this gruelling task within 2 hours.

A total of 232 households signed up to participate in the oil collection, but that did not prevent us from going through every single doorstep to check if any household who had not signed up had left any bottles of UCO outdoors in response to our flyers, distributed to every mailbox 2 weeks ago. We carried around empty plastic containers (that were mercifully air-tight!), which we used to accummulate the UCO collected from every household.

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All the UCO stored in those bottles handed over by the households ultimately get poured into a plastic container, which we lug about enthusiastically while doing our rounds.

Those households who contributed their UCO basically did so in two ways:

a) They very nicely left their bottles of UCO outside their doorsteps, as requested by us when we did the household participation survey 2 weeks back.

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Spot the inconspicious (but brimming! :O) bottle of UCO!

b) Alternatively, they very responsibly safekept the bottles of UCO for us indoors, and promptly (and literally) delivered it to their doorstep upon our ringing of their doorbell.

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A kind resident handing over her bottle of accumulated UCO (collected over 2 weeks!) and gamely posing for a photo.

There were several amusing occurrences during our collection, and this was one of them:

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Oily handwash, anyone?

At the same time, it was extremely kind of the owner to leave us not one, but two bottles of UCO outside his door – they were even neatly packaged in a plastic bag labelled “used cooking oil”, clearly for our benefit!

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Talia and Samantha, clearly triumphant over the amount they managed to collect

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Project BARAY member, Jessica, helping to collect oil from residents

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Vincent and Shida showing off the fruits of their labour

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OUCH. >< Today not only cost us our sweat, but also our blood

dscf56211Helpful, gracious members of NUS Rotaract Club done with their UCO collection, to whom we owe much thanks for our efficiency today. (: 0dscf5622

A group photo of the Oiliets (Talia, Samantha and Gloria missing from the photo as the first was selflessly taking the photo; the second had to go off early and the third was unable to attend) – literally overseeing the fruit of our labour (:

The response for today’s inaugural UCO collection was indeed extremely encouraging. In total, we managed to collect an estimated 40 litres of UCO – that’s 200 batches of soap, which effectively translates to a whopping 1400 pieces of soap! (imagine that amount for every 2 weeks!)

In a nutshell, Project GREASE is very grateful to the gracious residents of Chong Pang RC Zone 7, NUS Rotaract Club, and most of all, for giving us the opportunity to carry out GREASE-ycle in the first place, Northwest CDC for their support in GREASE-ycle thus far. We are extremely encouraged by this very affirmative response, and sincerely hope that the residents of Chong Pang will continue generously supplying their UCO to be recycled. Indeed, recycling is in many ways a communal effort, and this is one of the best examples of us working hand-in-hand as a caring community to do our part for the environment. The next oil collection date is on 21st March.

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Just like 2 weeks before, Project GREASE was prepared for a full day of GREASEy ventures- this time with a soap-making workshop with Chung Cheng High School (Yishun) in the morning and our inaugural oil collection with Project BARAY in the afternoon. Chung Cheng High School (Yishun) is one of the schools which will be involving in GREASE-ycle, by collection used cooking oil, making it into soap and selling the soap. Admittedly, some of us were rather nervous about the morning’s workshop, since we had never held a workshop for participants around our age.

Nevertheless, we arrived 1.5 hours in advance to prepare the materials needed for the workshop.
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Mrs Choo from Chung Cheng High (Yishun) came early and we introduced ourselves to her. The Chung Cheng High (Yishun) students and 4 other teachers came later in a bus, and were full of youthful vigour. After a presentation on the role they would by playing in GREASE-ycle, they were seperated into 2 labs- the sec 1 and 2 in 1, and the sec 3 and 4 in another.

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The energetic students eagerly followed their demonstrators and quickly got into “soap-making mode”. The rest of the other Project GREASE members acted as facilitators, willingly helping out any student.

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The workshop progressed relatively smoothly, besides a few minor mishaps of spillages and a puzzling case of lost thermometers (a mistake on our part). The soaps made by the Sec 1 and 2 pupils were quite successful, although the soaps made by the Sec 3 and 4 students turned out too viscous, the result of over-stirring. However, all students were assured that the reason behind such a viscous mixture was because the oil used was kopitiam oil; it is unlikely the oil collected from GREASE-ycle will be anywhere near as thick.

After the workshop, some of our members met up with Mrs Choo to discuss the details of our collaboration. 

Talia and Samantha Soong met up with 2 juniors, Kay Yi and Sheryl, involved in the Youth Business Expedition, who were interested in helping us sell our soap. Basically, they are part of a 6-member RGS team who will be selling environmentally friendly soaps in an uncoming fair on 21st March at Compass Point. The Youth Business Expedition is a competition to encourage youth entrepreneurs and judging will take place at the fair itself. Our juniors will primarily be selling soaps made without essential oils, but hope to sell our soaps too for a larger range of goods and a different aspect of environmental friendliness. The 2 girls had come to see our workshop being held for a better idea of how our soaps are made, and had very graciously agreed to be our photographers as well. Project GREASE quickly warmed up to the 2 friendly and helpful juniors (with adorable smiles too XD). We agreed to meet up again to discuss details of this collaboration next week, and Project GREASE set aside the more aethethically appealing soaps for sale.

Kay Yi and Sheryl holding our pretty soaps!

Kay Yi and Sheryl holding our pretty soaps!

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