Blue Turtles has teamed up again with Indonesian vocational school, STP Sahid Surakarta, to raise environmental awareness and tackle the serious problem of plastic waste in Indonesia.

Last year we sponsored the Solo Go Green project (in the city of Solo, Central Java, Indonesia) by funding an initiative to plant trees in the mountains surrounding Solo. We decided to do this because we believed it was an opportunity to plant seeds of change – to create environmental awareness  in a society poised to explode onto the world economic stage, but with very little regard for the environment.

Indonesia is a nation of 250 million people, becoming industrialized to the point of becoming a world economic power. The standard of living is improving and the country’s middle class is growing, which is good news for Indonesia, but it’s scary to think of such a shift happening for so many people, if it doesn’t coincide with a shift in environmental awareness. Growing wealth means more cars on the roads, more fossil fuels burned and more waste!

If you’ve ever visited a city in Indonesia – or gone to the beach in Bali in December – you’ll know what a lot of plastic waste looks like. It’s everywhere! It clogs the drains and waterways, causing frequent flooding in the rainy season. It covers the beaches and wraps itself around your legs when you go swimming and if you go island hopping, there are plastic bags drifting through the pristine clear waters, as deep as your eyes can see.

Banners & signs imparting facts about plastic waste.

The mess from all this plastic has a devastating impact. It’s a serious hazard for the local flora and fauna, and its impact on the oceans goes beyond Indonesia’s borders (Indonesia isn’t the only country to blame, though – every country contributes to the mass of plastic waste drifting in the sea. Read about the highly disturbing Trash Vortex of the North Pacific).

Some components of plastic are known  to have serious effects on human health, affecting the heart, liver and endocrine system. Think of all that plastic breaking down in the soil, rivers and seas, being absorbed into the food chain and eventually finding its way into our diets!

The Plastic Monster Parade

The parade, moving through the crowds.

A great mob of people assembled to walk through Solo’s main thoroughfare on Sunday morning April 14, carrying posters and banners that imparted facts about plastic waste and its impact. We approached people in the street and traded whatever plastic they were carrying for a reusable bag. We also picked up all manner of plastic waste discarded along the road and filled a cart.

Blue Turtles' Sandy is "harassed" by plastic monsters, Doron & Pak Budi.

Pak Budhi Purnama, the head of STP Sahid Surakarta, and Blue Turtles’ Doron Berger, were dressed as “plastic monsters”, and snarled their way down the street, giving radio, TV and newspaper interviews.

We received feedback from some people we met on the day that they’d learned something new from our campaign, which is an immediate positive result.  And since that day, students from the STP Sahid Surakarta school have continued to campaign every Sunday on Solo’s main street, so there is already a positive legacy. The city of Solo is often referred to as a barometer for the rest of Indonesia, so what a great place to inspire change.

One year on from our first environmentally themed campaign in Solo Central Java, the seeds we planted have grown into this more focused effort, and we’re looking forward to future projects to both create awareness of the problem, and establish viable solutions.

We’re honored to have the opportunity to play a role, however small, in making a positive difference in our world.

3 Comments for this entry

May 27th, 2013 on 5:38 pm

Positive outcomes from positive input by everyone on the planet in the smallest way could make the biggest difference to the environment – we all need to do something! Congratulations on you truly amazing effort & keep up the good work. Awareness & focused solutions are needed in all areas around the world.
Many thanks

Diana Akkerman
May 29th, 2013 on 12:37 pm

Your article moved my heart on thinking how much I do like Indonesian people and the shocked I was when I travel there and saw the incredible amount of the plastic waste around. One thing I would like you to know is that up to today left me devastated was the waste inside the magnificent Botanical Gardens of Bogor near Yakarta. More than 400 years old amazing gardens, I would say one of the most magnificent I have ever seen but surrounded of plastic.
I was so saddened with the thought of asphyxiation and the end of such a beautiful gift from nature place!
You have done wonderful and still so much to be done!, not just by you but for everyone specially awareness, education, I don’t blame the people if the haven’t being educated enough……

May 29th, 2013 on 10:00 pm

Gnostic Forest is so happy to be connected to such a wonderful company who walk their talk and lovingly give back to the community and to the planet!!
Thankyou for being awesome!

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