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Teens move to ban plastic bags in Bali

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Teens move to ban plastic bags in Bali

Bali

Melati and Isabel Wijsen, two sisters from the Indonesian island of Bali, are campaigning to ban plastic bags locally and reduce the impact of plastic waste globally. The sisters have been campaigning for four years to get plastic bags banned from the iconic island. When they started out they were only 10 and 12. They are finally about to succeed!

Indonesia is the second largest plastic polluter in the world after China — its plastic waste accounts for 10 per cent of marine plastic pollution. The Indonesian Government has pledged to invest over $1 billion in reducing this pollution, as according to the UN’s Clean Seas program. They plan on reducing the pollution by 70% by 2025. 

When the wet-season arrives and the winds turn, beaches on Bali are hit by the annual ‘trash season.’ The local government downplays the event as a ‘natural phenomenon’. 

The sisters were inspired by a lesson they had at school. The lesson discussed powerful world leaders that had affected change:

 “We had a lesson in class about positive world leaders, change makers like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Lady Diana, and I remember at the ages of 10 and 12 we went home thinking about what we could do as kids from an island. We didn’t want to wait until we were older to stand up for what we believe in.”

They didn’t wait but instead they founded an organisation called Bye Bye Plastic Bags, an NGO driven by young people determined to get the population of Bali to say no to plastic bags. The cause has taken the teens around the world, even making an appearance at the UN.

The sisters have noted that only 5 per cent of plastic bags get recycled in Bali, but the island produces 680 cubic meters of plastic garbage a day – the equivalent of a 14-story building. In their bid to get the local government to pay attention, they started a petition. They obtained over 100,000 signatures. 

Bali’s governor, Mangku Pastika, remained unimpressed and for over a year-and-a-half failed to meet Melati and Isabel’s request for a hearing. The sisters decided to have a hunger strike but because of their young age they were supervised by a dietician throughout the strike. Twenty four hours later they were escorted by the police to the governor, who signed a memorandum of understanding to help the people of Bali say no to plastic bags by January 2018.
 
They believe the voice of the youngest generations should have a larger resonance:
 
“If we could meet with world leaders and speak to them, we would tell them to listen more to the youth, consider us as more than just inspiration. We have bright innovative ideas of how to deal with some of the greatest issues of our time,” says Melati. “We are the future, but we are here now, and we’re ready. We’ve learned kids can do things. We can make things happen.”
 
Source: CNN

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