A group of four teenagers in Bali have decided to play their part in tackling the island’s waste management issues head-on. The young men from Denpasar have created a group they’ve called Pancawara Bali. Together they have set about cleaning up some of the city’s most badly impacted waterways. The teenagers have been hailed as an inspiration as they commit to the hard graft required to clean up the city’s rivers.
Pancawara Bali is a group of four friends I Komang Irfan Febrian, 18, Kadek Krisna Winanta, 18, Ketut Jian Ananda Putra, 20, and I Putu Kompiang Swastika, 19. They all live on the same street in West Denpasar and started their first river cleanup on the 6th of January. Since then, they have been diving back into the waterway after every heavy rainfall and clearing out the waves of waste that block the canal.
Febrian told reporters, “our place of residence is flooded”, the flooding is often caused by the volume of garbage that blocks the water from flowing freely through the river. He shared that they have cleaned waste from eight different river locations and two beaches close to Denpasar City and Badung Regency. He said that he was inspired to take matters into his own hands by similar groups like Pandawara Group who do similar river clean-ups in West Java.
The group has funded the project themselves using their pocket money. However, without sufficient safety equipment, they risk getting diseases from dirty water. Febrian said that, nevertheless, the work is important and a positive contribution to the community. He shared that their efforts were appreciated by social media users who have donated personal protective equipment, waste bags, and tough gloves, as well as transportation vehicles to take the garage to the waste management facilities.
Winata shared his hope that the work of the group will encourage others to get involved in cleaning up their communities. He said, “we want for this movement to be bigger so that people are aware of the cleanliness of the environment.”
The work of the small and mighty Pancawara Bali is aligned with that of the Bencheghib siblings, who are based in Bali too. The Bencheghib siblings, originally from Paris, have spent much of their lives in Bali. Kelly, Gary, and Sam Bencheghib are all environmental advocates in their own right. Between them, they are cleaning up Bali’s rivers, creating evocative environmental art, and turning waste into upcycled treasures.
Speaking to reporters, Kelly Bencheghib explained the work that she, her siblings, and the wider community are doing to tackle the waste issues in Bali. The siblings co-founded Bali-based non-profit Sungai Watch, which is dedicated to cleaning up Bali’s polluted waterways.
She explained, “Stranded in lockdowns, a lot of people around the world realized how important it is to cherish your environment.” She shared that the non-profit has over 300 volunteers, and the social media content of river clean up is racking up millions of views online.
Part of the project takes waste and uses innovative technologies to upcycle materials into something more useful. Bencheghib said, “being able to turn plastic bags into upcycled homeware is evidence of waste’s hidden value.”
There are dozens of non-profit organizations and community volunteer groups in Bali that are working together to create solutions to the island’s waste management issues. Many are working in partnership with the government authorities and local leadership committees to integrate sustainable solutions.
In the last few weeks, waste management has once again hit the headlines in Bali after garbage was piling up outside the waste processing facility in Denpasar. Due to a series of complications, waste was not processed at the facility for days on end, resulting in bags of garbage from all across the city spilling out over public roads.
Local senators called out the provincial government for not tackling the issue quickly enough. Though the City Mayor has instructed that the problem be resolved as soon as possible and has committed resources to do so.
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