How can we change the mindset of people to think in a more sustainable way and how can we transform trash into a normal everyday thing? This was the first question that entered everyone’s mind the day we were told we were going to collect trash from the beach and then make it into something cool and trendy.
We begin to think more about our trash issue when someone takes a photo and puts it up on a screen to present it. But they only really show you the smaller picture rather than the bigger one. This was where we started. We visited a local school the next day and told them about the trash situation along the beaches of Lombok and how it was affecting our oceans. When we finished the talk we invited them for a beach cleanup. When they arrived at the beach in the afternoon we all got started and began to clean the beach. It finally felt great to be doing something for the planet. When we finished cleaning the beach, even though the local kids didn’t understand a lot of English, we all got the same message that cleaning the beach is better than seeing rubbish piles everywhere.
The day after we cleaned the beach two wonderful women named Ayisha and Ibu Ida visited us to do a workshop using the plastic we had collected from the beach. Now I know you’re probably wondering: how do you make plastic into something fashionable? Don’t worry, you’re not the only ones who thought that because at the time we had to ask ourselves the same thing. Ayisha and Ibu Ida sat us down and began to introduce what they were trying to do and why they had come. They started off by showing us the different types of things they had made using recycled plastic. I was amazed by the different types of bags and purses that had been made out of the trash. They then began to teach us how to make plastic bracelets out of the trash we had collected from the beach. At first, it was hard but the more we tried, the better we got. Once we became almost experts at it, we said goodbye to the two inspirational women, ate lunch, and then invited the local kids over and taught them how to make the bracelets using the same trash we had used. They were confused when we first explained how to make it but then after many tries they finally caught on and began to make the bracelets to. Half way through making the bracelets we took a break and the local kids began to chat to us and sing songs playing their guitar. That was a good experience through my eyes and hopefully others.
The question we asked Ayisha and Ibu Ida was: why? Why help and educate others to recycle? They explained it was because trash was becoming a big issue in Lombok and that they didn’t want to wait for someone to do it for them. They were telling us that by educating and teaching local schools they were, in some way, getting their message across. Tears came to their eyes as they explained how hard it was to teach and educate others to recycle. They had been working in a small home and had been doing these plastic recycling workshops for free since they believed educating others about the issue was more important than money.
Throwing away trash is an easy task rather than taking the time to recycle or up-cycle it into something. But by throwing it away are you helping the environment or destroying it? Every day, people protest about trash and try to get their voices heard by all of us, but only a small part of a community hears. Most people say the change starts now. But why didn’t it start before and why didn’t it begin when the last person said it in a speech or on an assembly stage? This is what the issue is. People need to act with those who act alone. And all of us as a community have to begin by working together as one.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make the plastic bracelets that Ayisha and Ibu Ida taught us how to make:
~By Lola Sweeney~