This week our founder Danni Carr talks to the amazing crew behind Bye Bye Plastic Bags Bali. BBPB started as two brilliant sisters (aged just 10 and 12 at the time of conception) who set about to rid beautiful Bali of plastic bags and single use plastics. After managing to get firstly permission from the Government to collect signatures from the airport (they got 100,000!!!) and after many months of being ignored by the Governor of Bali they finally got him to take notice after a 24 hour hunger strike and BOOM they got him to sign a memorandum to eradicate plastic bags from Bali by 2018. 5 months in they are still working to non-stop to make him come good on his promise.
These girls and their crew of intrepid young kids have managed to create a global ground swell to spread their message and to say bye bye to plastic bags.
I know you did such an epic job in making the Govenor of Bali had agree to make Bali plastic bag free by 2018 and yet we are still seeing plastic bags given out at every shop and supermarket, do you forsee the Balinese and Indonesian government following through on this promise? How is all going?
YES - we have been working hard towards the big year of 2018. We are five months into the year and have not seen any follow through from the local government. However, we have proven that it is legally possible, economically more beneficial, practical, and the public is ready - you can learn more about this in depth on our video here: https://www.facebook.
However, we still remain positive that the change will happen this year, in October, Bali will become the world stage for many conferences such as the annual World Bank conference as well as the Our Oceans conference - our narrative at the moment to government is that they should view this as an opportunity to implement a bag ban or a paying for plastic policy. This would be a great first step to show Indonesia's leadership in ocean protection and their seriousness in reaching their goal of 70% reduction of waste by 2025.
The efforts of you girls and the entire team has been relentless do you every feel like it's too hard? What drives you to keep going?
Yes! Many times, especially recently entering the year of 2018. A lot has been happening on top of graduating a year early (Melati) and school in general. However, it’s easy enough to continue what you do if you love it…and if you have a team around you. Luckily we are surrounded by really cool youth who are just as motivated - which is what inspires us to keep going, seeing other bright likeminded young people eager to make a difference.
With the 100,000 signatures you got on your petition, where many of these local Balinese people or mostly foreigners?
Its hard to tell, especially because the petition was one of our first actions and has not been our main priority for the last several years - but I would say in the beginning it was mostly foreigners. BUT for example at our latest action we had over 20,000 people actively involved which 85% were locals and only 15% foreigners.
I really believe that the message needs to come from the kids and we are hoping more schools will start implementing education on plastic pollution and to teach kids about stopping plastic at the source. Do you feel there is a change coming with the new generation?
YES! 100% there is a shift happening in our generation. I think we are living in a time where we don’t have the luxury to wait until we are older to start standing up. Besides, theres a new wave of knowledge and technology that we are growing up surrounded by which helps us be more stronger a part of the solution. We see this through the distribution of our educational booklets targeted for local elementary schools, once they know and learn about the issue, there is an abundance of energy and passion, an eagerness to understand how they can help.
My daughters are 9 and 5 and only hope that they grow up to be as passionate and driven as you girls. What words of advice do you have for other kids who have great idea to implement change to help our environment?
Aw say hi to them from us!!!
Don't let anyone ever tell you that your too young or you don't understand - it may be hard when you first have an idea but it will be worth it when you just GO for it. Be creative, be open, be unapologetically YOU - and surround yourself with a loving team who are ready to give 100% into your idea and help you turn it into reality, because you cant do it by yourself! And of course, always lead by example.
You have expanded your message to reach broader Indonesia and many different countries around the world.. How is your message being received in other countries?
Its actually pretty exciting to have kids all around the world watch what we are doing on Bali and reach out via email or DMs saying “hey I want to do the same back where I come from.” We are now in 17 cities around the world (in Indonesia, 6 locations: Bali, Bandung, Jakarta, Batam, Palangkaraya - this one is coming up later this year) driven by youth so I’d say from a grounds up perspective Bye Bye Plastic Bags has been really well received. However, on a government level, each team in each country faces their own struggles, we say that for every country it will be different and thats why it is really great that we’ve set up a platform for all our team leaders to connect/support each other but also to share resources!
What has been the main challenges you have faced since starting this campaign?
I guess because we started with a pure intention and no business plan, or clear strategy which means that we grew very naturally but not without challenges.
I would say, five years in one of our biggest challenges has been fundraising, learning how we as a youth driven movement can be economically sustainable. But one of the bigger challenges is working with the government and understanding the slow, complex procedures before we see real impact.
What has been the most gratifying experience with this campaign?
We have a lot of memories and achievements that we are proud of as a team and as a movement. But some of our most recent most proud accomplishments are:
- One Island One Voice: 20,000 people actively involved on Bali cleaning up, 85% locals! OIOV has become an annual action, the first one happened in 2017 (12,000 people) and has become my favorite day of the year, it even beats Christmas and my birthday - http://oneislandonevoice.org/
- Mountain Mama’s set up: our newest social enterprise working with local women in the mountains of Bali to produce alternative bags with donated or recycled material.
- Educational Booklet round two: finally! our 50 page educational booklet targeting local elementary schools in Indonesia!
- River Boom: A highschool and middle school class which we teach to implement RIVER BOOMS in local rivers to stop trash from entering oceans.
And finally can you give us your 5 top tips on how to go plastic free?
- Always keep a foldable bag with you, either on a keychain or just in your “everyday bag”.
- Remember to order your drink without a straw.
- Bring your reusable water bottle with you!
- Buy a bamboo tooth brush
- Refuse unnecessary plastic packaging in the supermarkets - bring your own bag or food containers!
To find out more about BBPB visit their website http://www.byebyeplasticbags.org/