I made a terrarium at Singapore’s first environmental pop-up festival – here are all the activities you can check out before year-end

LOOP, an eco-friendly festival, popped up in Singapore on Dec 1, and will run until the end of the month.
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Doing one’s part to create a greener, more sustainable Earth is all the rage these days.

One after another, companies and institutions are banning single-use plastic straws, restaurants are implementing plant-based “meat” in their menus, and now, a new eco-themed lifestyle festival has hit town.

On Dec 1, LOOP, a pop-up championing environmental sustainability, made its first appearance in Singapore. Organisers claim it is the country’s first and longest pop-up of its kind.

Located at The Incubator at Esplanade Park, the festival is free for all, and will run till Dec 31 this year.

I paid the festival a visit during its launch and was immensely impressed by its welcoming, inclusive environment, and its interactive programmes.

There are over 100 local eco-conscious craft makers, food and beverage vendors, and a series of experiential workshops and talks organised to spread the sustainability message.

But instead of shoving the message to be environmentally conscious down my throat, the event offered fun little ways to learn more about saving the Earth.

One of its workshops was the self-sustaining terrarium-making workshop, which was held only on Dec 1.

The self-sustaining terrarium-making workshop was held on Dec 1, jointly organised by Axe, Elinn & Rinna.
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There’s no need to feel blue about missing out on this one-day event though.

All the materials which I had used to create and decorate my terrarium are a common sight in most local nurseries. So you can make your very own enchanting, miniature forest in the comfort of your home. Here’s how.

The first step was to choose a glass jar. I had the liberty to choose from a variety of small tubs and bulb-shaped containers.

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Not only are such containers obtainable from nurseries, you can get any kind of transparent container – bottles, bowls, cups – from practically anywhere such as the supermarket, the convenience store or sundry shops. Or, in true eco-friendly fashion, you can reuse old containers sitting around at home.

I selected a tiny, vintage glass container to house my plants.

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I started by adding activated charcoal to form the bottom-most layer.

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As activated charcoal is highly absorbent, it acts as a filter that pulls toxins and bacteria from the soil and water to deodourise the terrarium and keep the plants healthy.

Just one inch of activated charcoal supposedly provides sufficient drainage.

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The next layer to add was small rocks.

An array of rainbow pebbles sat on the table and I was surprised to find out they’re not only for aesthetics. These small rocks provide an additional layer for water drainage.

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And then, I added some potting soil.

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Standard packaged potting soil can be used for a plant terrarium.

And here comes the fun part – selecting the plants.

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Terrariums typically contain succulent plants – plants that store water in leaves, stems, or both. Succulents are perfect to be grown in terrariums as they do not require heavy nor frequent watering.

Such plants include cacti, aloe vera and Haworthia cooperi – and there’s no doubt that these types of plants are sold at nurseries, night markets and supermarkets for just about S$2 (US$1.46) to S$4 dollars.

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I had quite a lot to choose from. All of these succulents were still attached to their pots.

As instructed, I removed my chosen plant from the pot it had been growing in, and gave the soil a little squeeze to loosen it up.

I then dug a little crater in the soil in my glass container, and transferred the succulent over.

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This was when I realised that I might have made the wrong choice when selecting the container.

I could barely fit a single plant inside of my tiny jar, let alone decorative pebbles, sand and other adorable adornments – which are fundamentally the things that bring life to a terrarium.

Although I chose the smallest plant I could find, it was still way too big to fit. After a few minutes of inspection though, I spotted a smaller one that could fit snugly.

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And now, time for the finishing touches.

I was provided ribbons, pebbles, statues and clips to further embellish my terrarium.

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I added some pink pebbles, tied a Christmasy-looking ribbon, and clipped a mini-snowman peg onto the bottleneck.

This was the final product:

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My container also came with a lid, allowing me to choose between making it a closed or open terrarium.

The main difference between a closed and an open terrarium is that a closed one is more self-sufficient as it’s able to create a continuous water cycle – moisture evaporates from the soil and plants, condenses on the glass walls, and falls back down. As such, it only needs to be watered fortnightly or once a month.

The environment within a closed terrarium makes it ideal for moisture-loving plants such as the fittonia, ferns, ivy and mosses.

In contrast, open terrariums do not have a regular water cycle as they’re open to the air. Thus, they have to be watered frequently – either once or twice a week, or when the soil looks dry.

Here are other crazy Instagrammable terrariums that others made:

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Wider containers can not only fit more decorative pieces such as pebbles and log pieces, but also multiple types of plants.

But those who choose to grow different types of plants in the same terrarium should tread carefully as each type of plant requires a different amount of sunlight and water.

Visitors had to pay S$30 each to make one terrarium at this workshop. That’s pretty pricey, but I was told that all proceeds would go to the Association for Persons with Special Needs. That means the workshop was both environmentally friendly and charitable.

Not all workshops require payment.

The other workshops that were held on Dec 1 and Dec 2 were tie-dye pencil case-making (free), Christmas wreath-making (S$100), wire letters-bending (free), wooden chopsticks-carving (free) and wood-painting using local discarded wood (free), paper pleated fan-making (S$50), honey appreciation by a local beekeeper (S$50), and recycled vegetable wax scented candle-making (S$50).

Although the pop-up is open on both weekdays and weekends (4pm to 10pm on weekdays, 10am to 10pm on weekends), most activities and programmes happen on weekends.

I was told that on weekdays, LOOP is an open co-working space with coffee, wine and beer. There’s also a dedicated picnic area for all to enjoy live music performances by local buskers.

There are a wide variety of upcoming events, such as toy-making using discarded wood, wheatgrass potting, a secret Santa Christmas picnic party and even a community potluck, just to name a few.

Here are some of the most interesting upcoming events:

1. Unplug & Play

Unplug & Play is happening this weekend (Dec 8 to Dec 9).
Facebook / LOOP Singapore

Unplug & Play – which is happening this weekend (Dec 8 to Dec 9) – encourages visitors to disconnect from technology and participate in a variety of craft, nature and outdoor activities.

This includes making your own toy with discarded wood, potting wheatgrass, and learning to be a circus practitioner for a day.

The best part? It’s free of charge.

2. Cook & Share

Cook & Share is happening next weekend (Dec 15 to Dec 16).
Facebook / LOOP Singapore

A weekend of cooking and sharing sure sounds heavenly.

This community potluck is set to happen next weekend (Dec 15 to Dec 16). Visitors can check out a range of items from freshly produced food by local farms, to handmade and chemical-free products.

The festival is also implementing a “live” cooking station to prepare freshly produced food, a durian picnic party, and even a yoga session and some cheerleading.

3. The Secret Santa Christmas Picnic Party

The Secret Santa Christmas Picnic Party is happening from Dec 21 to Dec 22.
Facebook / LOOP Singapore

This is a special dinner picnic by Masterchef Singapore runner-up Shamsydar Ani priced at S$35 per person (early bird promo). Check out the dinner menu here.

Visitors can also make crafts with local wood and make their own sangrias.

According to LOOP, there’s no need to bring gifts – each visitor can make one there and give it away.

The full list of events – on both weekdays and weekends – can be found on LOOP’s Facebook page.

Or, if you’re someone who prefers a chill, relaxing evening without having to socialise too much, there are free movie screenings at the event for you to check out.

Behind the main space is an open field with colourful chairs scattered around so visitors can watch movies at LOOP’s pop-up cinema.

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Here’s the full movie screening schedule:

  • An Inconvenient Truth – Dec 7
  • An Inconvenient Sequel – Dec 8
  • Wall-E – Dec 14
  • Pom Poko – Dec 15
  • The Lorax – Dec 21
  • A Beautiful Mind – Dec 22
  • Song of the Sea – Dec 23
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas – Dec 24
  • How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) – Dec 25
  • The Jungle Book (1967) – Dec 28
  • Princess Mononoke – Dec 29

All movies start at 8pm.

Of course, there’ll be food and beverage vendors. And unsurprisingly, extra charges apply for customers who do not bring their own reusable cutlery and mugs.

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