Plastic. Who would have thought that it will be one of the biggest challenge of our time? The material is clogging rivers, filling up the oceans and finding its way in our food chain. According to The Guardian, a recent study predicts that by 2050, there could be more plastic than biomass in the oceans.
The role of Indonesia
Unfortunately, Indonesia plays an important part in this topic. After China, Indonesia is the second biggest plastic polluter in the world. During rainy season the situation gets especially tenuous. The masses of water move the waste that has been lying around, clogging the streets and rivers before reaching the ocean. It was during one of those periods when Tiza Mafira decided to take action. “All I saw was waste that was generated by us, by you, by me, by everyone. And I thought, we can’t keep on blaming somebody else. All of us can do something about this.” She was a corporate lawyer at the time and decided to start a petition asking retailers not to provide plastic bags for free anymore.
Plastic Bag Diet is born
This was the start of a new movement called Plastic Bag Diet. Thanks to Tiza’s petition a national trial period started, during which retailers charged money for plastic bags. The trial had a significant impact on the use of plastic bags and inspired people to rethink their behaviour. In fact, the city of Banjarmasin took further measures and banned plastic bags completely.
Working on different fronts
However, the petition was only the start. Tiza’s organisation is active in three areas. One of them is their continuing collaboration with the government to implement new policies to avoid the use of plastic. Secondly, plastic bag diet concentrates on social awareness. They work together with schools and encourage students to tackle the problem. “We want to inspire the new generation to come up with their own innovations.” By giving out small grants to schools, Plastic Bag Diet doesn’t only encourage ideas, they help them making their ideas reality. Thirdly, they work together with retailers to ban plastic bags from stores and raise awareness in the industry.
Inspiring Role Models
Tiza stays posiive when she talks about the futur: "There is a lot of initiatives out there. And this makes me positive that this has to lead somewhere good". Her actions and ongoing effort are an inspiration for everyone. The United Nations Environment Programme proclaimed her an Ocean Hero: a remarkable person fighting the good fight for our seas. So is Wijaya, the founder of the Jakarta Paddle Club. He organises beach cleanups on a regular basis, relentlessly fighting against the waste that is taking over the beautiful beaches he loves. Let's take them as role models and think about what everyone of us can do! Plastic is a problem everywhere and by changing our own behaviour, you can have an impact today.