A project by Western Rivers Environmental Education Network
This project educated and engaged 10 school communities from across Central Western NSW on water conservation and empowered parents to adopt water conservation behaviours at home.
In early November 2017, 45 students and parents attended the Go Green Film Festival at Rahamim Ecology Centre in Bathurst. The short films were made by 200 primary and high school students as part of two sustainability education projects: the ‘Water is Life’ film competition run by Rahamim Ecology Centre; and films from the GoMAD (Go Make a Difference) Challenge run in partnership with the Office of Environment and Heritage and NSW Environmental and Zoo Education Centres.
“The project plan template made planning and evaluating the project easy, allowing the team to work towards clear and measurable outcomes. I’m sure we will be using this process for future projects and I think the logic progression will be helpful, especially for grant applications.”
Nic Hall, Red Hill Environmental Education
During the intermission, film goers attended workshops by Bathurst Regional Council, Rahamim Ecology Centre and the Office of Environment and Heritage. These included how to be a water-wise gardener and how to create a raingarden at home, as well as a tour of the Rahamim grounds to see water conservation measures in place.
“It was good to see how receptive Council has been to this project, which enabled time and financial resources to be made available to it. I look forward to working on projects in the future with the WREEN group.”
Alison Thompson, Bathurst Regional Council
At the end of the event participants were encouraged to make a ‘water-is-life’ pledge to commit to water conservation at home. Incentives of free water-saving shower heads, vegie seedlings and local native plants were also offered to help them undertake their commitment. Incorporating these community-based social marketing tools of written commitments and incentives resulted in 26% of festival attendees signing pledges to save water at home.
“I enjoyed learning what a best practice project looks like and feeling confident in planning for one. Since accessing the skills of others in our region for a better outcome, I have had the confidence to draw on my colleagues’ support and ask them to collaborate with us on a couple of successful grant applications that I have written.”
Sally Neaves, Rahamim Ecology Centre
The project team surveyed these people over the summer to evaluate whether they changed their behaviour. 41% of pledge makers completed the online survey, all reporting that they had adopted a range of water conservation behaviours at home including: taking shorter showers; watering their garden at a different time of the day; capturing kitchen and laundry grey water to reuse on their garden; and wearing clothes more times before washing to reduce the number of loads per week.
“For professional environmental educators working in regional teams, this has been a fantastic way to overcome professional isolation by working on inspirational projects with enthusiastic, like-minded people.”
Andy McQuie, Office of Environment and Heritage
This evaluation was able to demonstrate that the event not only educated the community, but also resulted in 11% of attendees changing their behaviour to actively help the environment. It is important to note that this figure may have been higher if the festival site had only one specific entry/exit point to ask people to complete their pledge as they left, as a number of people were able to leave without being asked to pledge.
“The thing I remember most about the day was the great films made by good kids”.
“After going to the festival, we now take shorter showers and water our garden at a different time of the day”.
“We have acted on the pledge we made at the Go Green Festival and now capture both our kitchen and laundry greywater for reuse”.
“I’ve tried really hard to wear my clothes for a few days at a time instead of throwing them in the wash”.
“I took home a lot of free plants that are now in my garden. I’ve noticed that they grow with less water and I often think of the kid’s films when I am watering those plants”.
“I’m now reusing water from the kitchen on my garden, e.g. veggie washing water”.
Community attendees of the Go Green Film Festival
- Western Rivers Environmental Education Network
- Bathurst Regional Council
- Rahamim Ecology Centre
- Red Hill Environmental Education Centre
- Office of Environment and Heritage
- Australian Association for Environmental Education- NSW Chapter
- The creation of a project that applied the strengths of all members;
- Providing a platform for skill sharing, information disseminating and raising community awareness around environmental issues such as water;
- Working collaboratively in a new team with those doing similar work in other organisations, adding a great deal of value to an existing community event;
- The feedback from the audience on the quality and well considered messages contained within the films was overwhelmingly positive. The short films were of a very high standard and delivered powerful messages around the way we use water. These can easily be used as resources in the future to engage the wider community around water use and conservation. Well done to all the young film makers involved!
- Planning and delivering the Go Green Film Festival was a great opportunity to put learning into practise and work together. The collaboration between agencies was very positive and added value to an existing, popular community event, and the WREEN members had a chance to really get to know each other by working on a project together;
- The use of ‘Zoom’ for online meetings and other technologies (e.g. SurveyMonkey) facilitated engagement and collaboration between agencies as the project developed, and in the post-project analysis;
- Attendees at the Go Green Film Festival were very interested in the information which was made available including the waste-free lunch, viewing the student-made films and workshops and it was great to see such a high level of enthusiasm. The day was well received and workshops well attended;
- The free plants and other give-aways provided a reminder to participants that this was more than just a token effort.
CHALLENGES AND LESSONS LEARNED
- It would have been ideal to have more people attend the festival. As it was well advertised, it’s difficult to know what encourages/discourages people to attend. Perhaps next time we could partner with a popular existing event that already draws people in, e.g. a Sustainability Expo or local Bunnings ‘special guest’ day;
- Having a specific entry/exit point to capture people to complete their ‘water-is-life’ pledge as they left may have resulted in a greater percentage of film goers pledging and a stronger demonstration of behaviour change from the event;
- The venue and setup were great and people enjoyed the atmosphere provided by the live music.