Last year the burning of the rain forest in Indonesia was an astounding problem, it upset some friends and me so much that we decided that we wanted to do something about it. We were in a hazy bubble and not many people outside of Indonesia new much about conflict palm oil and the devastation that it causes. A lot of times kids feel that they have to wait until they’re grown up to make a difference in the world but there is no reason why we can’t start when we are young, in fact, I know many people who have already.
In 2012, two of my friends at Green school Bali, Melati and Isabel Wijsen, had a class on significant people that really want to heart, so they started talking about all the problems that impaired the quality of their lives and the lives of others around them and came to the conclusion that plastic pollution was one of the biggest issues in Bali. Plastic is a very big problem, perhaps too big, so they settled for plastic bags. Their initiative grew and grew and now, I am positive that they are significant people with an international Ted talk and that one signature from the governor of Bali that says Bali will be plastic bag free by 2018. Their hard work definitely paid off.
To see Melati and Isabel’s Global Ted talk click here
At my school (Green School, Bali), the cars commuting to school each day were contributing tremendously to our carbon footprint. One teacher and many students wanted to do something about it. They figured a biodiesel bus would be the best option for them. After a lot of trial and error, they finally got their first bus running. It was a huge success, but the glycerin which is the by-product of the biodiesel, was going to waste. They decided to make soap with the biproduct and trade the soap for the used cooking oil that was needed to create the biodiesel. This was also a huge success and a tremendous learning experience for the kids involved in this project. They got many more buses going from all around Bali and more and more people started to join their bus group. They presented their project at side events of the COP21in Paris last year and their trifecto model of transportation, education and community resonated with many climate activists that they met there. I presume that they will continue to grow bigger and better and I hear that they are now attempting to create a biodeisel production center on site at Green School.
To see Kyla and Maxwell’s Tedx Ubud talk about the BioBus project click here
In Indonesia, where I have lived for the past five years of my life, palm oil is a huge problem. It is a commodity that they use in almost every product consumers buy and they don’t even know it. The production of conflict palm oil is responsible for the near extinction of many species, the destructon of tremendous quantities of our Earth’s most fertile rainforests, and the change in our climate due to the release of carbon into the atmosphere from the burning of peat swamps. Some friends and I decided that we wanted to do something about it. We realized that we knew a lot about the issue because it was in our face in Indonesia, but people around the world had no idea. We decided that we had to spread awareness. We formed an initiative called Kids Cut Conflict Palm Oil and, after many presentations and a lot of hard work, it got the attention of Dr. Jane Goodall, who created a personalized video to support our initiative.
To see our “Beyond the Haze” video featuring Dr. Jane Goodall, Click here
We have given talks about palm oil all over South East Asia, Ireland and…today….Greece! No one in the room today had ever even heard about palm oil. There is a lot of work to do.
Early on, we were giving presentations and realized that people had questions that we could not answer. We needed help. We found an ally in an amazing organization called Wildlife Asia. We became youth ambassadors for Wildlife Asia. They help us to stay on top of all of the new information regarding conflict palm oil. Right now, for example, Wildlife Asia is helping to drive this powerful petition to force one of the world’s top conflict palm oil supporters, the horrendous Pepsico Corportaion, to stop their terrible ways. Please take a moment to sign this petition:
I hope that any kids reading this think a lot about the issues that they care about and maybe even make their own initiative. As Isabel Wijsen often says in her talks: “Kids may only be 25% of the population now, but, we are 100% of the future”.
Written by Xochi Luz