Our campaign to ban plastic bags in Bali | Melati and Isabel Wijsen

Our campaign to ban plastic bags in Bali | Melati and Isabel Wijsen

Melati Wijsen: Bali — island of gods. Isabel Wijsen: A green paradise. MW: Or … a paradise lost. Bali: island of garbage. IW: In Bali, we generate 680 cubic meters
of plastic garbage a day. That’s about a 14-story building. And when it comes to plastic bags, less than five percent gets recycled. MW: We know that changes the image
you may have of our island. It changed ours, too,
when we learned about it, when we learned that almost all
plastic bags in Bali end up in our drains and then in our rivers and then in our ocean. And those that don’t even
make it to the ocean, they’re either burned or littered. IW: So we decided
to do something about it. And we’ve been working
for almost three years now to try to say no to plastic bags
on our home island. And we have had
some significant successes. MW: We are sisters, and we go to the best school on earth: Green School, Bali. Green School is not only different
in the way that it is built out of bamboo, but also in the way that it teaches. We are taught to become leaders of today, something a normal textbook cannot match. IW: One day we had a lesson in class where we learned about significant people, like Nelson Mandela, Lady Diana and Mahatma Gandhi. Walking home that day, we agreed that we also
wanted to be significant. Why should we wait until we were grown up to be significant? We wanted to do something now. MW: Sitting on the sofa that night, we brainstormed and thought
of all the issues facing Bali. And one thing that stood out
to us the most was the plastic garbage. But that is a huge problem. So we looked into what was
a realistic target for us kids: plastic bags. And the idea was born. IW: We started researching, and let’s just say, the more we learned, there was nothing good about plastic bags. And you know what? We don’t even need them. MW: We were really inspired
by the efforts to say no to plastic bags in many other places, from Hawaii to Rwanda and to severals cities
like Oakland and Dublin. IW: And so the idea turned into the launch
of “Bye Bye Plastic Bags.” MW: In the years
that we have been campaigning, we have learned a lot. Lesson number one: you cannot do it all by yourself. You need a big team of like-minded kids, and so we formed
the Bye Bye Plastic Bags crew. The volunteer team includes
children from all over the island, from both international and local schools. And together with them, we started a multi-layered approach, based on an on- and off-line
signature petition, educational and inspirational
presentations at schools and we raise general awareness
at markets, festivals, beach clean-ups. And last but not least, we distribute alternative bags, bags like net bags, recycled newspaper bags or 100 percent organic material bags, all made by local
initiatives on the island. IW: We run a pilot village, home of 800 families. The village mayor was our first friend and he loved our T-shirts, so that helped. We focused on making the customers aware, because that’s where the change
needs to happen. The village is already
two-thirds along the way of becoming plastic bag free. Our first attempts to get the government
of Bali on board failed. So we thought, “Hmm … a petition
with one million signatures. They can’t ignore us, right?” MW: Right! IW: But, who would have guessed one million signatures is, like,
a thousand times a thousand? (Laughter) We got stuck — till we learned lesson number two: think outside the box. Someone mentioned that the Bali airport handles
16 million arrivals and departures a year. MW: But how do we get into the airport? And here comes lesson number three: persistence. Off we headed to the airport. We got past the janitor. And then it was his boss’s boss, and then the assistant office manager, and then the office manager, and then … we got shuffled down
two levels and thought, well, here comes the janitor again. And after several days knocking on doors and just being kids on a mission, we finally got to the commercial
manager of Bali airports. And we gave him the “Bali of plastic bags”
speech, and being a very nice man, he said, [imitating the man’s voice]
“I cannot believe what I’m about say, but I’m going to give authorization to collect signatures
behind customs and immigrations.” (Laughter) (Applause) IW: In our first hour and a half there, we got almost 1,000 signatures. How cool is that? Lesson number four: you need champions
at all levels of society, from students to commercial
managers to famous people. And thanks to the attraction
of Green School, we had access to a steady
stream of celebrities. Ban Ki Moon taught us that Secretary-Generals
of the United Nations don’t sign petitions — (Laughter) even if kids ask nicely. But he promised to spread the word, and now we work closely
with the United Nations. MW: Jane Goodall taught us
the power of a people’s network. She started with just one
Roots & Shoots group and now she has 4,000 groups
around the world. We are one of them. She’s a real inspiration. If you’re a fellow Rotarian, nice to meet you. We’re Interactors, the youngest department
of Rotary International. IW: But we have also learned
much about patience, MW: how to deal with frustrations, IW: leadership, MW: teamwork, IW: friendship, MW: we learned more
about the Balinese and their culture IW: and we learned
about the importance of commitment. MW: It’s not always easy. Sometimes it does get
a little bit hard to walk your talk. IW: But last year, we did exactly that. We went to India to give a talk, and our parents took us to visit the former private house
of Mahatma Gandhi. We learned about the power
of hunger strikes he did to reach his goals. Yes, by the end of the tour, when we met our parents again, we both made a decision and said, “We’re going on a hunger strike!” (Laughter) MW: And you can probably
imagine their faces. It took a lot of convincing, and not only to our parents but to our friends
and to our teachers as well. Isabel and I were serious
about doing this. So we met with a nutritionist, and we came up with a compromise of not eating from sunrise
to sunset every day until the governor of Bali
would agree to meet with us to talk about how to stop
plastic bags on Bali. IW: Our “mogak makan,”
as it is called in Bahasa Indonesia, started. We used social media to support our goal and already on day two, police started to come
to our home and school. What were these two girls doing? We knew we weren’t making
the governor look his best by doing this food strike — we could have gone to jail. But, hey, it worked. Twenty-four hours later, we were picked up from school and escorted to the office
of the governor. MW: And there he was — (Applause) waiting for us to meet and speak, being all supportive
and thankful for our willingness to care for the beauty
and the environment of Bali. He signed a promise to help the people of Bali
say no to plastic bags. And we are now friends, and on a regular basis, we remind him and his team
of the promises he has made. And indeed, recently he stated and committed that Bali will be
plastic bag free by 2018. (Applause) IW: Also, at the International Airport
of Bali, one of our supporters is planning to start
a plastic bag-free policy by 2016. MW: Stop handing out free plastic bags and bring in your own reusable bag is our next message to change
that mindset of the public. IW: Our short-term campaign, “One Island / One Voice,” is all about this. We check and recognize
the shops and restaurants that have declared themselves
a plastic bag-free zone, and we put this sticker at their entrance and publish their names on social media and some important magazines on Bali. And conversely, that highlights those
who do not have the sticker. (Laughter) MW: So, why are we actually
telling you all of this? Well, partly, it is because we are proud of the results that,
together with our team, we have been able to reach. But also because along the way, we have learned that kids can do things. We can make things happen. Isabel and I were only 10 and 12 years old when we started this. We never had a business plan, nor a fixed strategy, nor any hidden agendas — just the idea in front of us and a group of friends working with us. All we wanted to do
was stop those plastic bags from wrapping and suffocating
our beautiful home. Kids have a boundless energy and a motivation to be the change
the world needs. IW: So to all the kids of this beautiful
but challenging world: go for it! Make that difference. We’re not telling you
it’s going to be easy. We’re telling you
it’s going to be worth it. Us kids may only be 25 percent
of the world’s population, but we are 100 percent of the future. MW: We still have a lot of work to do, but know that we still not stop until the first question asked
when arriving at the Bali airports will be Both: “Welcome to Bali, do you have nay plastic bags to declare?” (Laughter) Om shanti shanti shanti om. Thank you. (Applause)

98 thoughts on “Our campaign to ban plastic bags in Bali | Melati and Isabel Wijsen

  1. good campaign from our sisters:)
    there are a lot of plastic bag waste in another Indonesian big city too, like a JAKARTA,BANDUNG etc. so i hope in the future another cities will follow soon"free plastic bag". .

  2. On Oahu a ban on plastic bags was instituted with exceptions, like reusable bags are okay. Now most of the places I used to get thin plastic bags offer me much thicker reusable plastic bags instead. I handle the bags exactly the same way I did before the ban, but now they will surely take far longer to decompose.

  3. I guess most of you don't live on an island and therefore you can't see what all this plastic means. 2nd, the usage of plastic bags in Asia is crazy. You get everything you buy in it. A drink? Plastic bag. Rice? Plastic bag … Stuff you can fit in 2 bags? 5 bags … Buy a pack of gum? Bag … and now think how an island can get rid of it in a environmentally save way. There is non, most have to export it to a recycling plant … or let i rot (will not happen), or throw it in the sea … So avoiding it in the first place is the right thing to do. Thanks for the video, i wish "we" had someone like the 2 girls on the island i live (much smaller). I try to do my part by collect all what is recyclable (mainly bottles, because tap water is not save, but also paper, glass and plastic in general) to get it recycled (locals pick it up for free and they get money for it). But of course i also try avoid getting plastic bags if i don't need them. And i'm not a hippie at all, i just care what happens to "my" island.

  4. I really want to be significant like them, but I am limited by time. My school doesn't do what girls' school does. My school is all on remembering stuff and understanding things. Without putting it into practicality. I am just wishing to find a school that fits me. Then move there to practice my skills. I am in Indonesia, any suggestion?

  5. Plastic bags are not the problem. We just need a willingness to put trashes in their own places. And again, everyone has their own mind. I REALLY appreciate this movement and this is supposed to be done on entire earth.

  6. Only Bali?, what about the fast oceans with plastic waste and other countries that's suffering in garbage?.

    But yeah, good luck yeah.

  7. The comment section in this Ted talk is SHAMEFUL! It's real easy to sit behind a computer screen and dish out vitriol on a couple of teenagers who are trying to better the world, isn't it? How horrid. Most teenagers are glued to their cellphones 24/7 or glued to the video gaming screen or worse. These two young girls saw a problem and tried very hard to do something about it. They are not scientists, they are doing what they can. And even if their solutions are not fool-proof, we all should be applauding them.

  8. Wouldn't the better solution be to give people money for plastic bags? Don't see many cans around because hobo's can cash them in, put a bounty on plastic bags and the hobo's will find every last one of them.

  9. now i know where was those no plastic bag campaign that was running by the ministry of environment in indonesia took an inspiration from. this newly campaign is also started in 2016. this campaign is already applied in almost all market in indonesia, by giving these plastic bag some price. and the final target is for free plastic bag in 2020. thats mean your spirit and vision is already be heard not only in bali island scale but even in a nationwide scale. congrats to you girls and your team, i never expect this great campaign was formed from this wonderful kids as around same age as i am. iam an indonesian myself, but i live in jogjakarta. i took a big inspiration from u all. thanks for your hard work 😀

  10. Find another way to use this material if it is so called indestructible. Remodify the chemical in creating these bags so they will be less harmful and more useful.

  11. I cannot believe the negativity in this comment section. These two young girls are taking amazing strides to clean up their island and are so brave. Stride on, you beautiful warriors!

  12. Living here in Bali or anywhere in Indonesia you will notice locals of any age littering, if you come here watch the people as they exit the door of an indomart shop etc and 8 out of 10 times they will open a wrapper cigarette or food and drop it on the ground in front of anyone without any fear of it being wrong or illegal, in traffic cars in front of you will expel plastic and water bottles too,
    take a drive throughout the country and you will see mountains of trash piles in places, if you travel to Tabanan and spend time in that area between Canggu and Bedugal you will notice the intoxicating smell and clouds of smoke drifting offshore in the dry season along with the doubly rice grass burn offs… there is no infrastructure big enough here and most officials are corrupt and obviously don't care enough, the Bali government has only really been in existence for 5 years with a governor who is improving things but not focusing enough on the trash epidemic.

    Integrity doesn't breed well here to tackle this disgusting problem, education in Bali must improve dramatically especially in Balinese culture,

    If they want to be clean they must make take a firm stance on littering in the media everywhere and adopt methods like Japan or Singapore and educate the public that its everyone's problem after you drop that plastic…you cannot solely blame education, the parenting problem is tough too as they rarely have an ideal upbringing in the home to instill good hygienic standards, the majority of uneducated Indonesians I know come across as very lazy people no argument there, the problem is the government and the population is immense to undertake a socioeconomic change for a trash free future… plastic bags are not the only problem.

  13. Look at Nikola Tesla and how the bankers suppressed his free energy proposals. Banning plastic bags is just a distraction from the truth,

  14. You forgot plastic holders for soda cans! What about all plastic bags?! Plastic packaging? Plastic cups? So why do I have to be taxed now for plastic bags in the grocery store? Well since they are banned, it's still not illegal to sell plastic bags, nor is it illegal to use and manufacture plastic. So instead of the grocery stores offering something to carry out your purchases, they just have to Sell us plastic bags (i.e. a plastic bag tax). Everyone I know, and everyone that I know, knows that everyone they know, we all use the plastic bags to use for wastebaskets. I've never, NOT reused a grocery plastic bag. And don't forget to ban 2-Liter bottles next time, we don't need them! Oh and ALL plastic bottles for soda and iced T. Is aluminum safe? We should look into that, because it's possible that we need to ban that too.

  15. Very brave girls. Watching this video makes me think that I am extremely proud to be an Indonesian. I very much support the movement to say bye bye to plastic bags and I wish you good luck for your ideas and mission. Salam Indonesia!

  16. Bravo to these young girls and all the staff for this initiative. It should not just in Bali but all over the world. Want to have it also the Philippines to be plastic bag and all these plastic packages, drinking bottles in the groceries be banned.

  17. This is so wonderful! It is also crucial to decrease if not eliminate other forms of plastic!! I just did a video on five ways to decrease the use of plastic in our homes. Banning bags is fine, but what about the countless other single use plastics?!

  18. Comments section: stupid idea girls, but I'm not doing anything to help. You get what you put in, we'll all get what we deserve….eventuality.

  19. https://www.change.org/p/wayne-jett-stop-the-use-of-disposable-bags-in-mchenry?recruiter=667615037&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=share_petition&utm_content=nafta_copylink_message_1%3Areal_control

  20. Девченки, вы молодцы!!!💚 )) Респект вам!!!!👍 побольше бы таких людей как вы)

    P.S. Знаю меня здесь, конечно, никто не поймет, но всеравно захотелось высказаться)

  21. when i click this i don't know both girl say about plastic campaign but this presentation is very very interesting. i never close my eyes when both girl say something.

    Proud of you

  22. Good job girls! – To ban plastic bags could be a part of the solution, actually, but we have to do much more…
    Let's do it!


  24. OK, their presentation is a bit over-rehearsed but the use of plastic bags is a problem not just in Bali but all over Indonesia. In many areas there are no refuse disposal facilities or collection service. The tendency to place anything and everything in a plastic bag combined with a lack of education and a habit of treating rivers and canals as a dustbin make this a serious issue. Plastic bags block drains causing serious flooding in the rainy season affecting property, causing traffic congestion and even resulting in loss of life. Well done girls!

  25. At GlobalOwls, we really love the way they inspire thousands of people to take action. Today! We've covered their story on our blog. For those interested in their journey, check it out: https://globalowls.com/banning-plastic-bags-bali/

  26. WowMazing Initiative, I am happy to know that there were this TWO Kid's doing there part and just like others I am so inspired by their message. I've been to Bali twice, and million thumbs for them! Here in the Philippines, particular in our island town which is Puerto Princesa City in Palawan (known to be the last ecological frontier in our country) we are also facing the same battle about the issue of Plastic Bags. Now, I initiated to create our Facebook Page "Ayaw ni Princesa ng Plastic Bags" or Princesa Hate Plastic Bags in Instagram. We hope and pray that our advocacy will touched the people lives and will increase their awareness to come with us in this journey for our Blue Planet (the Earth), and for our children's, children's and children's!

  27. Wel done girls……. Happy to hear get inspired by our great leader Mr. Mahatma Gandhi. I see future generation at least thinking for their future generation…..Great….Say No to plastic bags.

  28. You girls are an inspiration. Single use plastic waste is becoming a massive issue and you two are leading the way. Keep up the good work.

  29. But did you learn that all of these moments n the climates change movement all tie in to the Sunday law mark of the beast you cam save this earth and this earth will not go to a next 50yrs without Jesus comes

  30. Estas chicas son líderes y nos dan un gran ejemplo al preocuparse por un problema ambiental de enormes dimensiones, como es la basura plástica.

  31. all you do gooders out there wanting plastic bags ban consider baning cars and every single motor that runs on fossil fuel…they cause cancers due to carbon atoms in the air world wide. wake up idiots and get real..!!

  32. Wijsen? What is that, Dutch? Just more colonials, enforcing their culture and bossing the natives around. Training bra Hitlers.


  34. They both are one of my inspirations to form my very own NGO to empower children in Indonesia about healthy environment through fun and creative learning. Thank you byebyeplasticbags for being an inspiration

  35. 2019 our new Governor of Bali banned plastic bag , of course not every company or seller will do that, but it needs time to change, but it one of postive movement, but the side effects is the plastic bag seller income is decrease because no one buy their plastic bag. Solution makes a problem, and we need to resolve it too

  36. Democrats told us forty years we had to switch to plastic bags because we were cutting down all the trees and were going to run out of oxygen and we only had twelve years left I'm telling you what folks these communists won't stop until everything is gone I'm telling you. The fastest way to take our freedoms is to ban everything in the name of environmental protection.

  37. So inspiring!! Really like they’re extremely talented. I want to commit to stopping using plastic bags <3

  38. This is great, however I was in Bali 2 weeks ago and got offered plastic bags in every shop I was in, and saw all street vendors using them and handing them out…?

  39. I am really inspired by their attitudes. They are really brave, consistent and diligent. The environmental issues are now widely known, but few people are ready to make a difference. We are good at finding out problems, but when the problems are not solved properly, they are still there and negatively affect the developmemt of society. Their story, together with others really makes me believe that everything is possible.


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