Sisters Isabel and Melati Wijsen are on a mission to ban the use, sale and production of plastic in their home island, Bali. Their campaign Bye Bye Plastic Bags has caught the attention of the likes of Ban Ki-Moon and Jane Goodall, and has been key in increasing awareness around garbage disposal. We spoke with the two, and learned more about their Bye Bye Plastic Bags (BBPB) initiative.
1. What is BBPB? Bye-Bye Plastic Bags is a social initiative driven by children aged between 10 to 15, local and international, living in Bali who are trying to ban the use of plastic bags on the island.
2. What is the idea behind BBPB? We were inspired by a number of signifi cant people such as Gandhi and Mandela. We learned about them at school, and wanted to become like them without having to wait until we’re old. And so we thought, “what can we do as kids in Bali?” Plastic bags then came to mind. That’s how the idea was born.
3. When and how was BBPB founded? BBPB was founded in August 2013 with our parents as the only supporters.
4. What are the goals of BBPB? Our goal is to say no to the use of plastic bags on the island. Through our campaigns, we hope to decrease the popularity of plastic bags usage and promote the use (and production) of environmentally friendly, alternative bags. We want to infl uence both residents and visitors to Bali to not use plastic bags. Luckily we have the Bali government supporting our cause now. We have signed an MoU with the governor, and shared it with other like-minded organisations. We’re happy that what we have worked so hard for has fi nally been recognised by many. Together we can make Bali plastic free.
5. How does BBPB achieve its goals? Through a multilayered approach, we do educational presentations at schools. In the near future, we will hold fun, educational activities in local schools. We also run a pilot village, where no one is using plastic bags. We are lobbying shop owners as well as customers to not use plastic bags. In addition, we raise the public awareness through beach cleanups, festivals, and even fl ash mobs.
6. What are the obstacles to doing so, and how do you overcome them? So many! Obviously we need more help. We need to have more local schools to get involved. We have quite an accomplishment in 2014, but that’s not enough. We wish to do better this year, and hopefully more (as many as possible) kids and youngsters will get involved this year and be part of the change.