One woman’s participation in cleaning up the beach all started with one simple question from her little daughter as she was looking for her missing dog. “Since you’re out on the beach why don’t you clean it up as well?” recalls Mika, a Japanese living in Bali, with a smile. (Sadly her dog remains missing, but we can take comfort that at least something good came out of it.) And thus she began her new activity once a week at the nearest Pantai Berawa, along with fellow Japanese, Chieko. Move forward one year and now they’re coordinators for the upcoming One Island One Voice, a call-to-action beach cleanup event initiated by Bye Bye Plastic Bags that’ll take place on 23 beaches (and possibly more) on Sunday, February 19. We talked with Chieko to find out more.
What’s your motivation or aim in doing the beach cleanup?
Our aim is simple. We just want to further spread the idea [of beach cleanups], and in fact I had been contacted by a woman from Facebook who saw our activity and wanted to create her own group, so that’s good. We realized the effect might be minor, but at least when you help pick up a trash—it’s action, and it gives me hope. And hopefully in the future we can help make a sustainable system down to the banjar level that collaborated with recycled factory in dealing with trash that can eventually earn income for the local community.
You must’ve met with a lot of inspiring people along the way?
The big event that we’re planning actually started from two teenage girls (the inspiring Melati and Isabel Wijsen) who started the Bye Bye Plastic Bags movement, and we’ve also met with many other inspiring people, NGOs, groups, and companies such as Avani—who also sponsor the event—that creates plastic bags made from cassava so that it wouldn’t endanger the environment even if the bags go into the ocean. Read on….
So tell us what we can expect from the One Island One Voice event?
Yes it’s going to be the biggest beach cleanup in Bali, and we’re going to do it on 23 beaches where we will put up meeting spots and people that want to participate can pick up the recycled trash bags that we provide (though to be safe, please bring your own plastic bags as well). So far we have around 1500 people confirmed to participate in the event. All the trash will be delivered to Eco Bali Recycle Station, Re<Pal (where they’ll transformed plastic bags into pallets), and many other recycling agencies.
Tell us about your hope in the future, especially with this upcoming event?
Of course we wish to further educate people about the importance of taking care of their own trash, and we hope that we can impress little kids as well. Give them a healthy environment in the future. Little by little, hopefully we’re making a difference.