Bali is an Indonesian island known for its forested volcanic mountains, beautiful beaches, coral reefs and rice paddies. What Bali may not be as well known for is its plastic pollution problem. China is the leader in plastic pollution, but Indonesia comes in second. Much of the plastic waste ends up in the ocean, but when the winds shift, the plastic washes up on shore and the beaches are littered with trash.
There are an estimated 4.3 million people living in Bali. Out of those 4.3 million, there are 2 amazing young women who are making headlines for their campaign to end the use of plastic bags in Bali.
Founders and sisters Melati and Isabel started Bye Bye Plastic Bags (BBPB) when they were only 10 and 12 after a school lesson about inspirational leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. They found themselves asking what could they, as children, do to make a difference in their home country of Bali?
Thus, Bye Bye Plastic Bags was born in 2013. The two sisters pledged to work to get rid of plastic bags in Bali. Their organization has now grown to an international movement of inspiration and youth empowerment, with groups working to get rid of plastic bags.
Melati and Isabel encourage youth around the world to create their own teams that work to ban plastic bags. You can get started by signing up here.
Melati and Isabel have spoken at 211 events, they have 17 global teams, donated 1,500 educational booklets to schools and gave 12,850 plastic bag alternatives to communities.
Melati and Isabel ask that we all get involved and start doing something now to make our planet a better place. We are in the midst of an environmental crisis. We can’t all just wait around for a better day, or when we are older, or have more time. The time is now. Everyone can do something to help. The sisters remind us that although it is easy to dwell on the negative and to think the global environmental crisis is too big, we must remember there are many good stories as well. There are people, like Melati and Isabel, standing up and doing things to make our world a better place.
The sisters have traveled around the world to educate others about the problems associated with plastic bags. They delivered a TED talk in London and made an appearance at the United Nations in New York.
Melati and Isabel started a petition to end the use of plastic bags. They collected signatures at the Bali airport from travelers. After reaching over 100,000 signatures, they presented their petition to Bali’s governor, Mangku Pastika. Unfortunately, the governor refused to get involved. But, this didn’t stop Melati and Isabel. They persevered nonetheless. The sisters decided to go on a hunger strike. After 24 hours, the governor responded by signing a memorandum to help Bali be plastic bag free.
Melati and Isabel believe that education is the key to change. They made a school handbook, which is geared towards elementary age students, and aims to educate children on the problems associated with plastic bag production and use.
Along the way they encountered success and fall backs. No matter what obstacles arose, they persisted and came up with creative ways to continue their fight to ban plastic bags. The sisters have proven that children can and do make a difference. Our children are the future, and as children, they are a powerful force for change.
Help support Melati and Isabel’s fight to end the use of plastic bags. You can donate to them here.