‘No excuse for single-use’: Bali NGOs Tackling Plastic Waste

Originally written for the Jakarta Globe.

Jakarta. Bali’s largest people-powered clean-up, aimed at raising awareness about the damage done by single-use plastic, will take place on Saturday February 24 across over 100 locations.

Organised by NGOs Satu Pulau Satu Suara (One Island One Voice) and Bye Bye Plastic Bags, this is the event’s second consecutive year. In 2017, approximately 12,000 people got involved in the efforts to clean Bali’s beaches.

This year, the organisations are expecting over 25,000, while also moving into rivers and markets.

In a press conference on Friday (09/02), Melati Wijsen – co-founder of both organisations – explained her reasoning behind starting the causes with her younger sister, Isabel.

“The environment has always been a part of our lives, and plastic is a big issue. It’s not rocket science – already at 10 and 12, we could see the negative impact plastic was having (on the environment),” she said.

“By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. Everything is happening right now, in our lifetime.”

Bye Bye Plastic Bags was created in 2013 with the vision of ending single-use plastic waste in Bali. Since then, the cause has been elevated to a national level – reaching the likes of the Ministry for the Environment and Forestry, and the Ministry of National Development Planning.

Last week, the groups met with the two ministries to initiate plans for a plastic-free Indonesia, delivering proposals for the formulation of a waste management strategy to stop plastic waste from entering the oceans.

“With the support of different people, different levels of society, it just adds to the movement, adds to that voice,” she said.

The groups are looking to expand the clean-up event across the country, though Wijsen believes the issue is far bigger than a co-ordinated event.

“Clean-ups are not the solution. It’s a tool of awareness,” she said.

“The long-term solution is waste management.”

The expansion is slowly beginning this year, with clean-ups also planned for Jakarta, Lombok, Batam, Palangka Raya and Nusa Penida.

When it comes to eradicating single-use plastic altogether though, Wijsen says the change must come from within.

“It is a lifestyle. You have to change your mindset.”

“There’s no excuse for single-use.”

About anthonyfurci

Journalist and producer based in Melbourne.

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