As published in The Jakarta Globe Newspaper:
Ubud, Bali. Last sunny weekend at the Green School, Sibang Kaja, Ubud, positive vibes wafted thick in the air among students and adults alike during the “Sustainable Solutions: From the Ground up” event. Two days of conference meetings, hands-on workshops and project showcases, the event gathered Bali’s eco change-makers to demonstrate their practical solutions to the island’s most urgent environmental issues.
Co-hosted by the Green School and the United Nations Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia (Unorcid), The “Sustainable Solutions: From the Ground Up,” was held over the last weekend in May and was jam packed with 500 enthusiastic participants including 120 students from the local school.
In addition to raising awareness of existing environmental problems, the event presented the practical solutions to sustainable lifestyle through actions. “Sustainable Development: from the Ground Up” sought to empower individuals by providing a forum for meaningful, engaging discussions and by offering practical, simple daily solutions for living a more environmentally conscious and sustainable life.
The event activities consisted of segments focusing on food, energy and waste management, all aiming to inspire and empower individuals who are ready to take on the challenge of living sustainably.
The Speaker Series highlights a diverse line-up of local and global stakeholders keen on providing solutions to the challenges which come with sustainable development, while the workshops provide a more practical and easy way to reducing the carbon footprint.
In the Solutions Showcase, held in the bamboo architectures which characterizes the Green School, a plethora of vendors presented their eco-products and services. The area filled with curious visitors. Their endless questions drilled the hosts for information on practical ways to implement sustainable lifestyle from the various booths displaying environmental projects, initiatives and educational programs led by local NGOs and youths.
Among them was Biowear which presented an alternative-to-plastic disposable product ranges, including the Eco Bag, the biodegradable, compostable and recyclable bioplastic bags made from cassava roots. The visitors were left in awe upon discovering that the eco-plastic bag is dissolvable in hot air and is harmless if consumed by animals. It is estimated that more than one million sea creatures die every day from plastic entanglement and mistakenly eating plastic bags seen as food.
While in the next-door vestibule in Meranggi Bale, kids from the local schools were attentively glued to their mobile phones to try the new mobile app “Cash for Trash” during the “Sampah punya Harga” (“Trash has value”) workshop. A winner of “Start-up Weekend,” a competition held in Ubud’s creative hub Hubud last November, the “Cash for Trash” app is a mobile app aiming to tackle the problem of inadequate waste management system in Bali through the use of popular technology. Olivier Pouillon and Febri, from the “Cash for Trash” team, led the crowd of expecting participants in downloading the app .
Currently only available for Android phones, “Cash for Trash” is designed to connect users with a pemulung (scavenger) to pick up their recyclable trash at home. Using similar geo-mapping technology employed by other pick-up services Gojek or Uber Taxi, with the “Crash for Trash” app, the user can pinpoint the location and search for the closest pemulung to arrange pick up.
“At first, we developed this app to target the students, because as we know they’re the heavy mobile phone users in Indonesia, but now we see the potential to launch this app to the wider public,” said “Cash for Trash” founder Pouillon. “In giving price to the trash and inform people on the possibility of selling this trash, we want to change the paradigm attached to rubbish, so people will think that throwing rubbish means throwing money so they’d rather sell it through Cash for Trash and recycle.”
The app does not only provide practical solutions for Bali, but also aims to offer inspiration on a global scale. Nilam is one participant who came all the way from Maldives to seek practical solutions to tackle the nation’s mounting trash problem.
“The Maldives is just like Bali, it’s an island nation, so I came today to pick up some ideas on how Bali [solves] environmental problems. And upon learning all these great practical ideas, I’m eager to see which options we can implement in Maldives.”
The solutions on offer were also welcomed by local participants. Made Wangsean, co-founder of Wirausaha Bali, an organization focusing on promoting the welfare of marginalized Balinese communities, commented: “I really appreciate that Green School organized this kind of activity and invited us to get involved. Especially, because many of our projects are focused on sustainable environmental programs for the local communities. We hope that this kind of activity can happen regularly and integrate more locals to find sustainable solutions together.”
Continuing in the spirit of environmentalism, the visitors then moved to the school’s main hall in Sangkep to engage in the panel talk “New Life for Trash,” attended by Ahmad Djuhara from Djuhara + Djuhara architect firm, Pouillon, Melati and Isabel Wijsen from Bye Bye Plastic Bag campaign, and Herni Hastutie from PPLH Bali.
Each panel member presented their eco-initiatives across various fields to give new meaning and value to trash. Djuhara, a prominent architect based in Jakarta, showcased his projects of designing houses entirely made from left-over and used building materials. His designs are not only unique but solid proof that living sustainably does not need to be expensive.
But to solve today’s pressing environmental issues, you need to get your hands dirty. And dirty it was, as the kids tried to make compost while learning about permaculture from the Kul Kul Farm, held in Green School’s very own vegetable garden. Children as young as 3 years old happily molded soil around beetroot seedlings before planting them.
With laughter echoing around the garden and faces smeared with dirt, the children truly learned about a sustainable lifestyle.
Satya Tripathi, director and executive head of Unorcid, said: “Indonesia’s young people are a powerful force for engendering the changes in values and practices that we need to see in order to achieve sustainable development. Our generation has the responsibility of doing what we can to steer humanity in the right direction, and to provide young people with the tools they need to accelerate along this pathway.”
The Green School aims to assist REDD+ & UNORCID’s initiative to educate one million Green Youth Ambassadors across Indonesia by 2017, putting them at the frontier of green education in Indonesia.