Give in to Hope Day 35: Melati and Isabel Wijsen

Cereal, snacks, and so much more–the amount of items that come wrapped in plastic seems to be growing every day. For Isabel and Melati Wijsen, who live on the island of Bali, they were horrified to see the “tides” of plastic waste that washed up on the beaches of the beautiful island nation, polluting the water and endangering the animals and sea life. When they were only 10 and 12, the sisters made it their goal to eliminate plastic bags from Bali, thereby making a dent in the amount of plastic waste in the region. In Bali alone, the amount of plastic waste that used to be created daily was the equivalent size of a 14 story building! Bye Bye Plastic Bags, the nonprofit founded by the sisters, was originally a small-scale effort, but the girls knew that real change would only occur if they had political power behind them. When the Balinese governor would not meet with them, they want on a doctor-supervised hunger strike (meaning they didn’t eat) until the governor relented, met with them, and committed to help with their goal. By 2018, Bali banned plastic bags, styrofoam containers and plastic straws, and the girls had started a new project, launching Youthtopia, “an online headquarters for young world changers” in 2020. These girls want to empower other young people, like them, to find projects that are meaningful to them, and to jump in to make a change!

To learn more about Melati and Isabel:

To hear about Youthtopia from Melati:

What are some of the common things that you see that come in plastic bags? Does your family already do things to use fewer plastic bags? Are there other things you could do to make less plastic waste? If your family still uses a lot of plastic bags, are there ways you could reduce your use?

Dear God, Help us remember that the trash we make doesn’t just affect us, but everyone around us. Let us be stewards of the Earth, for it is the only one we have. Amen.