Melati and Isabel Wijsen are the co-founders of Bye Bye Plastic Bags. They live in Bali, Indonesia where plastic bags littering the streets and beaches, are an environmental hazard. They started their social initiative to fix the problem.
… I was 12 when we started and Isabel was 10. As soon as we proposed the idea our community loved it. At our first meeting we had six people around the table – all of our best friends – and we said, ‘You have to join and help us in this’.
We said, ‘Everybody here has different passions and we want you to follow that within our team’. So we follow a multi-layered approach that involves educational and inspirational presentations. Isabel and I are public speakers, but for those in the team who are not, this is a great way for them to go to school presentations.
In Bali we have the Global Issues Network conference and we decided, ‘Okay, let’s kick it off at that’. We started with the presentation, we got some new team members, then we started doing beach clean-ups. We also started socialising with the local people.
The six friends we had at the first meeting are all board members now. We can take a break in the mountains, like we did recently, and we’ll have three teams out here on the job doing all different actions around the island. We have the support of the team, the community and our family. These are our three big pillars.
Almost two years ago we started a pilot village in Bali. It’s a model, so we could see how it would work to get that place plastic-bag-free first, and then we would implement it on a larger scale all over the island. We work constantly within the Pererenan village and the children there. We see motorbikes zooming by with alternative bags now.
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