With its flourishing culture and spectacular natural environment, Bali epitomizes a tropical paradise. Yet, there’s a little known fact about this island: it produces 680 cubic meters of garbage a day–this translates to a 14-story building full of waste! Fewer than 5 percent of plastic bags get recycled and almost all end up being littered, burnt, or discarded into drain systems that eventually leach into the ocean. So, two teenage girls, Isabel and Melati Wijsen, decided to take a stand against this tidal wave of needless pollution and have spent the past 3 years working to free Bali of plastic bags for good.
Taking cues from other countries around the world, these two amazing girls began an eco-friendly campaign known as Bye Bye Plastic Bags. Cultivating a team of like-minded youths and a widespread volunteer crew, the organization began with petitions and demonstrations to raise awareness for their initiative. A large focus was placed on enabling understanding among customers through the distribution of plastic bag alternatives and providing education on the absolutely unnecessary use of plastic bags.
Although their initial efforts were slow to gain traction, they managed to reach a large audience over time. After a petition campaign for one million signatures and a twenty-four hunger strike, the girls eventually met with the governor of Bali, I Made Mangku Pastika, who has made the promise to ensure a plastic bag-free Bali by 2018. Along their journey the girls have collected champions for their movement at every level, from local activists to members of the UN. Isabel and Melati’s motivation demonstrates the boundless energy of children and the amazing results that can be made when we work together towards a positive goal. Through their movement, they are helping to ensure that Bali remains beautiful for both their generation and beyond.