#20Under20 Isabel and Melati

Meet Isabel and Melati Wijsen, two teenage sisters from Bali, Indonesia advocating to ban plastic bags in Indonesia. At ten and twelve years old, they started their initiative to ban plastic bags locally and globally. Indonesia is the second largest plastic polluter in the world after China, and Isabel and Melati were always aware of the growing plastic population around them. Age didn’t hinder them from advocacy and the sisters were inspired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Lady Diana. They then founded their non-profit organization Bye Bye Plastic Bags, which is an initiative to get young people in Bali to ban plastic bags. They also gained permission to start collecting signatures behind customs and immigrations at Bali’s airport and, eventually, got over 100,000. However, that was not enough for Bali’s governor Mangku Pastika and for over 18 months he didn’t meet the sister’s request for hearing. The sisters then decided to hold a hunger strike which was effective, and after twenty-four hours they were escorted and met with the governor, who then signed a memorandum of trying to aid the Bali population to say no to plastic bags. The sisters have delivered TED talk and made appearances at the United Nations.

“We didn’t want to wait until we were older to stand up for what we believe in.”

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