What Matters To Me: Melati Wijsen, Co-Founder Of Bye Bye Plastic Bags
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.
Melati Wijsen and her sister Isabel were just 12 and 10 years old respectively when they had a life-changing moment six years ago. Struck by the amount of waste around them, the Indonesian pair founded Bye Bye Plastic Bags, a youth-led organisation that aims to empower people to say no to single-use plastic.
From online petitions to encouraging the use of plastic alternatives, and even a hunger strike to get their message across, Wijsen and her sister were instrumental in the eventually successful campaign to ban single-use plastic on the tropical island. In Devember 2018, the Bali government announced a ban on all single-use plastics, targeting a 70 percent decline in Bali's marine plastics within a year. Here, Wijsen introduces her work in her own words.
Growing up on the island of Bali, plastic was literally everywhere. Living in a home that’s only surrounded by nature, it wasn’t rocket science to see that plastic was having a negative impact on it. That’s why my sister and I decided to start Bye Bye Plastic Bags.
We knew we had to pull a team together, so we started contacting our closest friends to join us. We set up a petition online and within the first 24 hours we had more than 6,000 signatures.
Living in a home that’s surrounded by nature, it wasn’t rocket science to see that plastic was having a negative impact on it.
— Melati Wijsen
People see plastic as affordable. But if we introduce alternatives to the market and they become more popular, then the price will go down. If we encourage large businesses to change their packaging, have them look at the design failures and take their extended producer responsibilities more seriously, then changing people’s mindsets will become easier.
The way I see it, the younger generation has all the energy, motivation and passion, but we still need the knowledge. So every single person that has crossed our paths has something that we have yet to understand, which is why we should work together to make a difference.