We had the great opportunity to table at both Alameda High School and at the City of Alameda’s Earth Day event. Our focus was marine debris especially concerning cigarettes, microbeads, and biomagnification. In preparation we created multiple posters with interesting facts about bottle caps and other marine debris. As for tangible items we created a model of a Midway Albatross as a visual aid for our topic. At the weekend event we included our homemade microbead free face scrub, which people loved. Prior to the event we also collected cigarette buts from around the school campus to put in a mason jar for our Jamba Juice gift card guessing game.
Everybody loves a good Jamba Juice! This was the perfect incentive to getting people to come learn about the cigarette butts that we collected at Alameda High School. Once people came and learnt about the cigarettes they were disgusted by its contribution to marine debris. This was especially useful during our tabling at Alameda High School, because most of the teenagers passing by were uninterested in marine debris until they learnt about the Jamba Juice gift card they could win. During the earth day event we made face scrubs which attracted people curious of what was inside the containers. Many people were astonished that their face scrubs and toothpastes were contributing to marine debris and were excited to use this new environmentally friendly face scrub. We also made a albatross bird to demonstrate how trash affects the marine animal population. People far away saw this bird and were confused on why it had trash inside it. However sometimes people walking by our table were just not interested; we found that the best way to pull people in was to ask them a question, both people who knew the answer and didn’t know the answer came to talk to us. Alternatively we challenged them to guess the number of cigarettes, as not many people can refuse a challenge.
This tabling showed a lot of ways in which we can attract people to our booth, and then how we can get them to care about marine debris and other environmental issues we face today. It was effective to ask people if they wanted to guess how many cigarettes were in the jar, but then making them learn about the subject was difficult. I feel that if we had a short 15 or 20 second clip replaying over and over so people can see it passing by the booth, it is a lot more captivating than a simple question, and it gets people engaged even if they don’t want to approach the booth. Another thing that I noticed was that our posters (with a lot of the info we were trying to get across) were not the main focus for the audience. If they had been front and center concentrated on a poster board on the desk, it not only would be appealing and get more attention, it is perceived as the main focus and people will be more likely to remember it. Another slight flaw was our brochures. They were, I believe too filled with info, and we weren’t able to pass them out on the days we had tables in school. If we could distill that info in a short effective card, almost like a business card, people are less likely to throw it away and it is more convenient to carry around. Also, what I have seen in previous tabling is a sort of advertising people use, whether it be face paint or stickers, people ask where they got it and are more likely to go to the table or event. That and if they use a sticker, it is a constant of the beholder, and they are reminded of the event. That is why we either go big or sell quickly. By that I mean we put on a huge event with a lot of activities and tables that people will remember in the future, or we still have the table but it is packed will a lot of attention grabbing materials and we give out stickers or brochures or hold a contest that people will have that will remind them of the information. To accomplish all of this, the table crew has to be well prepared with the proper info and necessary amount of materials to give out (we ran out of the face scrubs we were giving out very quickly and people were still interested in learning about it).
Despite all the challenges we faced, the events went very well. Overall, many people came and learned many new things, walking away with a better understanding of marine debris. Not only did the public learn about marine debris, but we also improved in our public speaking and learned how we could improve our events for the future. We learned that incentives and questions are a good way to draw people in and that in future events we expect bigger crowds so that we don’t run out of things to give out.