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Indonesia is one of the most toured countries in the Far East. In recent years it has been suffering from beach and water pollution, mainly due to large quantities of plastic materials being emitted from the sea. As the plastic pollution worsened, a girl named Melati Wijsen started a campaign to protect her homeland. This started before Greta, the girl perhaps most identified with climate change, became a household name recognized for her travels around the world. In 2013 Melati, then aged 12, launched a campaign to reduce the use of plastic in the Island nation. The goal was to influence Bali Island decision makers to reduce the sale and use of plastic bags.

Indonesia has a population of 265 million people. Indonesians are major consumers of disposable plastic containers and bags, making them one of the world’s most polluting countries, and second in the world for seawater pollution:

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/suppl/2015/02/11/347.6223.768.DC1/Jambeck.SM.pdf

The organization established by Melati and her sister was not confined to campaigns against plastic bag usage rather it was based on the need for real social change. Among other things, the sisters contacted various organizations with the aim of recruiting women from remote villages, to make replacement bags from recycled and perishable materials. This has also contributed to raising women’s wages and integrating them into the workforce.

The Bali authorities invited the sisters to meet with the governor who, for his part, declared his desire to make Bali an island devoid of plastic. In the past year, the sisters have been able to recruit 1,000 Bali business owners to commit to reducing the use of plastic. They have organized campaigns, demonstrations and slowly brought about change.Melati’s Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/melati.wijsen

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