“It’s spreading like wildfire,” says I Made Janur Yasa filled to the brim with enthusiasm; the kind we need in these trying times.
Plastic For Rice is a barter scheme that aims to turn Bali’s environmental pollution issues into an opportunity to use plastic waste as a currency for food. The Plastic Exchange Initiative, as it is now better known as, has skyrocketed in scale from what started as a banjar-wide scheme now mushrooming village-to-village, in which consists of multiple banjars.
Three months have passed since it was first initiated; Janur and team have collected 15 tonnes of plastic waste from 44 different banjars since, and helped 1,345 households.
With positive reception from locals and expatriates, the humble initiative swiftly turned into a sustainable movement.
Since the early days of May, collecting waste whether in their homes or on the streets to trade for sustenance has become a healthy habit for these residents. Many of them now anticipate the next barter meeting, which currently takes place once a month.
Among several things, the movement cultivated a sense of pride and fulfilment. Janur shared the satisfaction of the people, having removed the demoralising mentality of asking for money, shifting instead to ‘I earned this.’
In with plastic, out with rice! Source: Plastic Exchange FB Group
One grandmother from Janur’s village, who can no longer endure duties in the fields expressed her gratitude for being able to be useful to the family and stay physically active. She spends her days scouring the neighbourhood collecting waste.
“It’s a nice feeling when you know you have extra rice for the family,” she says, wondering out loud when the next collection is going to be.
Education also stands at the frontline. Residents are learning the importance of waste separation and have started doing so into set categories. Janur believes in a reward-driven approach, rather than blame and punishment.
“It’s not pointing out what you are doing wrong, it’s teaching why they should do it this way — because you’ll get more and you’re saving the planet!” They walk with heads up high, proud of their upkeep whilst saving money and their home.
In Janur’s village, Banjar Jangkahan, Desa Batuaji, trash is collected for points to exchange beyond the rice supply. With these points, people can buy water filters that last for 5 years, in lieu of spending money buying gallons every month. This will become the prototype to further update the movement; where people can collect and trade waste for other necessities, such as clothes and homewares. Janur plans to open this for the public not limited to the adopting villages.
Where does the waste go? They have been in collaboration with fellow social enterprises committed to building ethical recycling systems, and one organisation in Java that up-cycles all kinds of plastic.
With fundraising efforts limited by safety regulations, The Plastic Exchange relies on the help of donation. To support the growing movement towards a cleaner and healthier Bali, please donate to The Plastic Exchange for Bali (Go Fund Me) and visit Plastic Exchange: Bali (Facebook Page) to follow their journey.