Komitmen is turning the tide on plastics pollution in Bali, writes Stephanie Mee.
All it takes is a trip to any Bali beach after a big rain to see that the island is facing a serious plastic pollution crisis. While many might say the mountains of plastic waste in the ocean and on the sand are coming from other islands, that simply isn’t true. Just take a look at Bali’s trash-clogged rivers and you can see that the majority of the problem originates right here. So how can you help? Supporting the Komitmen initiative launched by One Island, One Voice is a solid start.
Even if you’ve never been to Bali before, you may have heard of Melati and Isabel Wijsen. In 2014, at the ages of just 12 and 11 years old respectively, the Wijsen sisters created Bye Bye Plastic Bags to call for a ban on plastic bags in Bali. Their first step was to create a petition urging the Governor of Bali to ban plastic bags on the island by 2016. Unfortunately, that goal never came to fruition, but Melati and Isabel never gave up.
What started as a small youth movement quickly grew into island-wide action. The original petition received over 100,000 signatures, and in 2016, Governor Mangku Pastika signed an MOU with BBPB to help make Bali plastic-free by implementing education programmes and introducing alternatives to plastic. The sisters also organised beach clean-ups, campaigned for a pay-for-plastic programme on Bali, and created an education booklet on the harms of plastics and distributed them to schools.
In 2017, Melati and Isabel founded One Island, One Voice, a collective of NGOs, local businesses and individuals working together to raise awareness about Bali’s waste issue and highlight the need to take bold actions toward solving the problem. That year, the collective organised Bali’s Biggest Beach Cleanup, mobilising over 12,000 people across 55 beach locations to clean up 40 tonnes of trash. Of the participants, 55% were Indonesian and 45% came from other countries.
In 2018, OIOV expanded its efforts, organising 120 clean-ups in Bali, Nusa Penida, the Gilis, Java, and Batam with more than 20,000 participants helping to collect more than 65 tonnes of waste. Of the participants this year, 85% were Indonesian and 15% were international. Today One Island, One Voice is Bali’s largest collective active in the field of waste management and prevention.
In recent news, the mayor of Denpasar has announced that plastic bags will be prohibited in shops throughout the city starting from January 1, 2019. This includes supermarkets, convenience stores and traditional markets. Over the past year, the government of Denpasar has been incredibly proactive in promoting the reduction of plastic bag use, and this is in no small part due to OIOV’s tireless campaigning efforts.
Komitmen is OIOV’s latest initiative supported by 5 Gyres, a US-based non-profit that recently launched an expedition to sample microplastics in Indonesia’s Coral Triangle and explore solutions to the global problem of plastic pollution. The Komitmen initiative aims to eliminate unnecessary plastics from our daily lives and business operations, and invites businesses to change their plastic behaviours and provide options for local alternatives.
With the understanding that solutions to the plastic problem are not easy and real change happens in stages, the pledge consists of six simple steps to support and protect the environment in Bali. The first five steps call for a ban on the most pervasive types of single-use plastics in businesses: plastic straws, water bottles, retail bags, cups and cup lids. The sixth step is a commitment to separating inorganic and organic waste at the source.
So how do you take part? Simply go to the One Island, One Voice website and download the pledge. Tick the boxes and provide the dates you plan to implement each step. The pledge also asks that businesses promote their participation in the initiative. After each part of the pledge has been achieved, notify the Komitmen team and your business will receive a One Island, One Voice Komitmen logo that you can display in physical or digital form.
Don’t own a business here in Bali? You can still make a difference by supporting the 200-plus businesses on the island that have already committed to making the island cleaner and greener. Just look for the One Island, One Voice logo on their brick and mortar business, website or social media platforms. Don’t see the logo? Feel free to pass on the word about Komitmen and the vital work that One Island, One Voice and their partners are doing.