August 9, 2018

This is a beautiful story about two girls who started at age 10 and 12 with the initial goal of being significant. Through their efforts, the Governor of Bali agreed to help Indonesia be plastic-bag-free by 2018. It’s a story of determination, creativity and commitment. They formed a youth organization, collected petition signatures, gave educational talks and went on a hunger strike. Their takeaway is that youth can make change. And my takeaway is that there is no reason that any of us can’t also be significant now.

Time-stamped notes:

[1:00] Many of us think that we’re not the ones to be eco-leaders. Someone else would be better.

[1:30] Melati and Isabel Wijsen, sisters, age 10 and 12 in Bali

[2:00] Decided to become significant now.

[2:30] Decided to focus on plastic bags

[3:10] Learned that most plastic bags end up in the ocean, the others are burned or litter.

[3:25] Lesson 1: You cannot do it by yourself Formed the Bye Bye Plastic Bags youth group. Started online petitions Give educational presentations to raise awareness Distribute alternate bags, made my locals Goal: petition with 1 million signatures

[4:00] Lesson 2: Think outside the box. Bali airport handles 16 million

[4:20] Lesson 3: Persistence. Got permission to collect signatures behind customs and immigration

[4:30] Lesson 4: Need champions at all levels of society: Ban Ki Moon, Jane Goodall

[5:15] Learned patience, how to deal with frustration, leadership, friendship, teamwork, Balinese culture, commitment

[5:40] Decided to do a hunger strike after learning more about Mahatma Gandhi.

[6:05] 24 hours later we were picked up from school and escorted to the Governor. He signed a promise to help the people say no to plastic bags in Bali by 2018.

[6:20] Not the end of the journey

[6:30] Working with stakeholders groups in different regions. Still on this journey today

[6:40] Kids can do things. We can make things happen. Don’t need a business plan or agenda.

[6:55] Kids have a boundless energy and motivation to be the change this world needs.

[7:10] Youth are 25% of the population but are 100% of the future.

[7:20] Engagement ladder: no matter what your initiative is, you will have to engage at all different levels to be successful


Melati and Isabel Wijsen: Our campaign to ban plastic bags in Bali

TED Talk, September 2016

Bye Bye Plastic Bags

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