The problem of waste in Bali is very important. Indonesia itself is the second largest country after China, a waste contributor in the sea with an estimated 1.29 million metric tons of waste produced annually. Plastic waste that fills rivers and oceans has caused problems for years such as clogging drains in cities, increasing the risk of flooding, and injuring or killing marine animals that are swallowed or trapped by plastic waste.
This condition stimulates some movements among the community, especially young people. The next generation who are aware of the importance of preserving nature for human survival. Among the many environmental activists, one of them is Bye Bye Plastic Bags (BBPB), initiated by Melati and Isabel Wijsen, a young sibling born and raised in Bali.
BBPB is a social movement driven by children, driven by young people try to inspire people to not use plastic bags. Melati (age 16) and Isabel (age 14) started Bye Bye Plastic Bags about 3 years ago. At that time, they were inspired by a lesson in the class about the change makers like Nelson Mandela, Lady Diana, Mahatma Ghandi. And now, these two teenagers who study at Green School are consistent with the social movement; rejecting the use of plastic bag.
Until finally they were invited to address the World Oceans Day at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. In their speech, they asked representatives of UN member states to pay attention to the condition of the ocean. Melati and Isabel who spoke before the 193 state representatives succeeded in making the assembly amazed. In their TED talk, the sisters noted that only 5 per cent of plastic bags get recycled in Bali, but the island produces 680 cubic meters of plastic garbage a day, the equivalent of a 14-story building.
In their bid to get the local government to pay attention, they started a petition. They obtained permission to start collecting signatures behind customs and immigrations at Bali’s airport and, eventually, got over 100,000. Until now, Bye Bye Plastic Bags have become a global project with affiliates in several countries. The girls have been promoting on Bali the use of reusable bags and highlighting shops that have stopped selling plastic bags on their social channels. Along the way, they’ve had other successes, such as Bali’s largest ever beach clean-up, which attracted 12,000 volunteers.
The sisters are one example of a hero that we need. The “little” guardians of paradise, no doubt. So, would you care to join us and be a hero? We would be very happy if you do… to make Bali, this island of paradise, a better place for you and for me…