Green Drops

Name of the tool: Green Drops

Theme/subject approached: Sustainability

Objectives of the tool: Visualizing in a dynamic way the energy cost of buying food products from overseas, as compared to the energy investment of buying locally produced food products (awareness building)

Target-group: Students (14-20 years, minimum and maximum): 3 groups of 2-4 persons, 1 facilitator (shopkeeper), at least 1 person at the energy table, at least 1 person at the transportation table, at least 1 person at the fuel table, at least 1 person at the packaging table.

So a minimum of 5 facilitators (they could be volunteers from the public) and 6 to 12 participants. 

Material needed:

  • 4 small tables/chairs (energy table, transportation table, fuel table, packaging table)
  • 3 different ‘Shopping’ lists (cardboard or thick paper, with several daily products, such as milk, cookies, eggs, cheese etc. and on each list one of the following products: shrimps (or fish), beans and apples (or other products you can think of that in many supermarkets are offered from large distant producers, but from local producers as well)
  • Lots of ‘oil drops’ (pieces of black paper/cardboard cutout in drop form)
  • Instruction sheet (energy cost, represented in oil drops) for each of the tables, for instance:

Products from large distance:

  • Transportation of shrimps from Senegal = 5 energy drops for the boat
  • Fuel for the boat of shrimps from Senegal = 5 energy drops
  • Packaging (and freezing) of shrimps from Senegal = 8 energy drops

Products from local producers

  • Transportation of shrimps from a local Normandy fisherman (local van) = 1 energy drop
  • Fuel for the local van to transport de shrimps from Normandy = 1 energy drop
  • Packaging of shrimps (plastic bag) from Normandy = 1 energy drop

A similar sheet should be made for each of the example products. It doesn’t matter exactly how many energy drops are mentioned, the idea is to represent the different energy investment in buying a locally produced item compared to the cost of buying a similar product produced overseas.

  • Markers, to mark ‘OK for fuel’, ‘OK for transportation’, ‘OK for packaging’
  • Glue for the facilitator at the energy table to stick the energy drops on the ‘check-out cards’.
  • ‘Check-out’ cards (paper/cardboard where participants collect their energy drops on)
  • Funny clothes/caps/signs to simulate a supermarket situation

Space: Any (large) room, preferably inside.

Duration: 30-45 minutes, with 15 minutes debriefing.

Situation:

The facilitator (shopkeeper) asks volunteers to form 3 teams to go shopping. One by one the teams enter the virtual supermarket with their shopping list. The shopkeeper attends them, providing cookies, milk, bread etc. without a problem. Once they ask for the ‘example’ product (such as shrimp, apple or beans, a different example product for each team), he sends them on a virtual journey. To get shrimps – you need to get transportation (table) – to get on the boat; you need to get fuel (table), after that, you need packaging (table). Each table sends the teams back to the energy table (in the middle of the room), where the teams receive their energy drops on their check-out cards. Back at the transportation/fuel/packaging table, they receive their ‘OK’ and finally, can check out with the shopkeeper.

Then the shopkeeper tells them there’s an easier way to get the example product (such as shrimp): with a local producer. The team enters the virtual journey again, but with a lower energy cost (less energy drops on their check-out cards).

Rules:

All facilitators should have an instruction sheet with the energy cost (in drops) per product for both versions (locally produced or imported from far away). Facilitators at the table give their OK with a marker if this order is completed, and only once the team has collected sufficient oil drops (energy) from the energy table.

The facilitator at the energy table also needs to have this sheet, and as he is in the center of the game, he gets a lot of attention. Everybody always gets back to him, it’s all about energy.

The order of the ‘journeys’ should always be 1. Transportation, 2. Fuel, 3. Packaging.

The general facilitator (shopkeeper) has a funny role at the beginning, forming the teams and welcoming them to the supermarket. Also in the middle, at the ‘switch’ from the first round, where teams buy imported products from far way, he has a crucial role in sending the teams in again to buy the locally produced items.

Debriefing:

Participants are asked to compare their check-out cards for the imported goods to the check-out cards for the locally produced goods. What’s the conclusion? Try to have a conversation on the cost of energy, especially fuel, and packaging techniques like freezing, etc. and the influence you can have as a consumer. What choices can you make in the food you buy?

Adaptability to other themes/topic:

  • The game could be adapted/enlarged to make it useful for more people to play it together. It could even be plaid outside with a lot of public. More shopping lists could be developed with different products.
  • Depending on the location of the game, it is useful to choose example products abundant in the relevant area (eg. Cheese from Normandy, or fish from a coastal area).
  • One could also think of optional transportation methods for local products: car or bicycle for example and integrate this in the game.
  • You could develop a similar game with topics such as child labor in the garment industry.

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