Used goods bazaar raises over $35k for charity

ITE students Ng Zu Jing and Owena Ho were among the more than 200 volunteers who helped at the EcoBank Bazaar, which was held from last Friday till Sunday.
Visitors browsing through used items on sale at the EcoBank Bazaar at City Square Mall over the weekend. The national zero waste initiative by CDL and media company Eco-Business had collected more than 10 tonnes of used items over the Chinese New Year spring cleaning period. PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Visitors browsing through used items on sale at the EcoBank Bazaar at City Square Mall over the weekend. The national zero waste initiative by CDL and media company Eco-Business had collected more than 10 tonnes of used items over the Chinese New Yea
ITE students Ng Zu Jing and Owena Ho were among the more than 200 volunteers who helped at the EcoBank Bazaar, which was held from last Friday till Sunday.PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A zero waste initiative has helped raise more than $35,000 for charity over the weekend, having earlier collected more than 10 tonnes of old clothes, toys, books, electronics and other used items over the Chinese New Year spring cleaning period.

The goods were sold at the EcoBank Bazaar, held at City Square Mall near Little India over three days from last Friday till Sunday.

EcoBank is a national zero waste initiative by City Developments Limited (CDL) and media company Eco-Business.

The Children's Charities Association, the beneficiary of this year's project, will receive the money, which includes proceeds from an online auction of items and a $10,000 cash donation from CDL.

The auctioned items include the philosophical book The Restful Mind by Gyalwa Dokhampas. The book, autographed by actress and United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh, fetched $2,000.

CDL chief sustainability officer Esther An said: "This project is not just about money, but also eco-education. The main thing is education because that is priceless."

CHEERFUL GIVERS

Some didn't have change so they gave $15 when the price was $12, and some took only one item, but paid for three.

MISS OWENA HO, an ITE student who helped out in the project.

Last month, coinciding with the Chinese New Year spring cleaning period, collection points were set up at seven CDL-owned buildings for people to donate unwanted items.

Among the items collected were branded goods such as Oakley sunglasses, Prada bags and Star Wars figurines - all of which were snapped up on the first day of the bazaar.

Business development manager Teo Guan Whee, 48, was there with his wife and daughter on Sunday. He was so caught up with browsing the goods that he picked his son up later than usual from a class.

The couple spent $60 on books for their children and a jacket for Mr Teo's business trips overseas.

It was "money well spent", said Mr Teo. But he added: "They could have categorised the goods better and priced them closer to their actual value... Certain things, such as books, could have been priced higher."

Another bazaar visitor was Dr Jean Grunstein, 70, a retired diplomat from Paris. He was there with his wife Edith, 65, a German language professor, last Saturday.

"We support charities and recycling," said Dr Grunstein cheerfully. "They should develop this more because it's a good way for people to socialise." The couple, who were on holiday here, spent $40 on toys for their grandchildren and books for Mrs Grunstein. She found three German books at the bazaar.

Mr Zaw Myint, 53, an engineer from Myanmar working in Singapore, chanced upon the bazaar with his wife on Sunday. They spent $12 on soft toys and puzzles for family and neighbours back in his home village in central Myanmar.

Among the more than 200 volunteers who helped out in the project were two Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students. One of them, Mr Ng Zu Jing, 19, said he faced a few on-the-job challenges.

"Some customers tried to bargain with us, but we encouraged them to get a few more items to qualify for promotional prices. Some even tried to take things without paying, and I had to ask them to put it back."

However, there were nice customers too. ITE student Owena Ho, 19, said: "Some didn't have change so they gave $15 when the price was $12, and some took only one item, but paid for three."

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, who attended the event last Friday, described the bazaar as a place for "guilt-free shopping".

He also called on citizens to work towards a "Zero Waste Nation" by 2030 as outlined in the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015.

About 7.6 million tonnes of waste was generated in 2015, 50 per cent more than in 2005. If this continues, Singapore's only landfill at Pulau Semakau will top out by 2035, said Mr Masagos.

Ms An added: "The Government has been doing clean-and-green for years. But if everybody just leaves it to the public sector to do the job, it will not be effective."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2017, with the headline 'Used goods bazaar raises over $35k for charity'. Print Edition | Subscribe