Mention 'Bali' and images of an ideal beach vacation with sparkling oceans and swaying palm trees come to mind. What you may not know is that Bali is also the second largest producer of ocean born plastic pollution. And over the years, that pollution has started to destroy the lovely impression of Bali.

Taking on a government is no small feat as thousands of leaders across the world will tell you. Yet where lawmakers were reluctant unwilling to fight for changing the system of decay that had set in, two young sisters took up the cape of national superheroes. And just to be clear, by young, I mean 'not even teenagers yet' young!

Melati & Isabel Wisjen were not even teenagers when they started 'Bye Bye Plastic Bags' aimed at forcing the world to work harder to fix the environment and ban plastic bags


Isabel and Melati Wijsen were just 10 and 12 years old when they started the non-profit group, Bye Bye Plastic Bags, in 2013. Their singular aim - to bring back the beauty of their homeland and work to ban single-use plastic bags across the Indonesian island.

But naturally, you must be wondering what a couple of pre-teen girls with no political backing can do against the might of bureaucrats and national leaders? Well, let us see.

1. In 2015, they convinced the Bali governor to sign a letter committing to work to end use of plastic by 2018.
2. In 2016, after successfully collecting 100,000 signatures, they got the Bali airport to say 'Bon Voyage' to plastic bags.
3. In 2017, alongside 'One Island, One Voice' with other NGOs and local businesses, they organized the largest beach cleanup in Bali's history. 12,000 volunteers from across the world removed over 40 tonnes of plastic and garbage in 55 separate locations.

Melati & Isabel Wisjen were not even teenagers when they started 'Bye Bye Plastic Bags' aimed at forcing the world to work harder to fix the environment and ban plastic bags


Of course, as 2018 came by, Isabel and Melati did not let up, holding multiple meetings with national authorities to force them to uphold their promise and ban plastic bags, striking down arguments and offering educated alternatives which would benefit the country, both environmentally as well as financially.

Their fight to ban plastic bags has made them heroes not just in Bali but even beyond and the two sisters have spoken at various international forums including TED summits and even the United Nations World Oceans Conference in New York.

Isabel and Melati Wisjen at INKTALKS 2014 talking about Bye Bye Plastic Bags
I actually had the pleasure of chatting with Isabel and Melati Wijsen back in Mumbai in 2014 before they spoke about 'Bye Bye Plastic Bags' at INKTALKS 2014 and received a standing ovation from the audience at the end of it. 

Melati & Isabel Wisjen were not even teenagers when they started 'Bye Bye Plastic Bags' aimed at forcing the world to work harder to fix the environment and ban plastic bags

Today, 6 years after they began their crusade, they are still 'just teenagers.' And they have shown that when the message is right, not just an island but the world will be ready to listen and learn from the young voices around them.

You can listen to these inspiring young girls here:



Melati & Isabel Wisjen were not even teenagers when they started 'Bye Bye Plastic Bags' aimed at forcing the world to work harder to fix the environment and ban plastic bags


Author's note:
This is part of my #BlogchatterA2Z and  #AtoZChallenge where I will be focusing on Real Life Heroes of Kindness and Compassion. 

Of course, I have been tracking these lovely human beings for years now and have found children as young as six years old and old women in their eighties from across the world who will restore your faith in humanity.

Want more stories of compassion to brighten up your day? Hundreds of 'Heroes of Kindness' can be found here:

Heroes of Kindness - 2017 edition
Heroes of Kindness - 2018 edition
Heroes of Kindness - 2019 edition
Heroes of Kindness - Indian edition

6 Comments

  1. The heroes of today, indeed! I have read so many instances about teenagers taking an active interest in making our world a better place. I guess today's generation knows what they might have to deal with in their future, considering the adults of today aren't bothered much about what kind of world they leave behind for their future!

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  2. I'm so glad that today's generation have become conscious of our surroundings and is taking the sustainable route. And you, of course is an inspiration to all of us here for bringing our these stories.

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  3. Oh so brilliant! It is nice to see the younger generation care for the planet. The oldies seem to have lost it altogether.

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  4. Wow! They started this amazing and much needed initiative when they were soooo young!! These girls are so inspiring. And you met them!!! That's super cool too!

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  5. Awesome and hands down one of the best initiatives I have read about so far Doc - such young kids and what they achieved is impressive!

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