Even at 10 or 12 years old, you can still make a difference.
In their home a Bali, in 2013 when Melati Wijsen was 12 and her sister Isabel was 10 years old, they started Bye Bye Plastic Bags. This campaign was aimed at banning the use, sale, and productions of plastic bags. First, the girls wanted to start with their home of Bali and eventually encompass all of Indonesia.
After five years of campaigning, the two have convinced Bali to ban plastic bags.
Why is this so important?
If one thinks of Bali, they are often flooded with images of a paradise island with beautiful beaches. But in actuality, the last few years this has been getting further away from reality. Beaches were becoming so polluted the word paradise didn’t fit anymore.
How bad is it really?
In 2015 a report said Indonesia leaked approximately .48-1.29 million metric tons of plastic waste in the ocean every year. This is the second largest ocean polluter after China.
When the two young girls saw firsthand what was happening to their island. They decided someone needed to do something about it. First Melati and Isabel started raising awareness among the locals of the severity of the problem.
Why worry about it?
This is not a natural problem, it is 100%man-made. Plastics from all over the world are polluting beaches and oceans globally.
The sisters attend Green School Bali, an ecologically-designed private school. The school’s aim is to empower its students to become green leaders of the world.
Think you’re too young to make a difference?
The girls, with their education and environment, were propelled to take action. Neither wanted to wait until they were older to get to work.
This is when “Bye Bye Plastic Bags” was born.
Throughout the years, the girls have been involved in many local and international initiatives. They’ve spoken at the UN World Oceans Day, a TED talk, and also organized the largest Bali beach cleanup with over 12,000 volunteers.
The girls even went on hunger strikes to convince the governor to agree to the conditions of the petition. After only 24 hours the governor made a promise to ban plastics by 2018.
With 2018 almost over how does it look?
Well, the government seemed to be confused at who should be responsible first. Currently, neither local nor national government is willing to take the lead in the movement.
Regardless, the girls don’t give up quite so easily, as Bali and Indonesia are talking about it seriously. An absolute ban may not happen by the end of the year, but there is definite political pressure for it to happen soon.
The girls are not alone in their fight. Having gained international attention; they have many people in their corner like the United Nations and Jane Goodall.
When two teenage girls catch the eye of the world and are even willing to starve themselves for the planet, people tend to lean in and notice!
Sonia Rina Landry is a passionate entrepreneur, speaker, author, and personal development coach. She is an outspoken advocate of the free market economy and has helped countless clients identify their core values, envision and realize goals that resonate with those values. She oversees several businesses online and offline.