21 September 2019
“Selamat Hari Bersih Indonesia!” a teacher at TK Negeri Sunter Agung exclaimed to her preschoolers as they gathered at 6am on Saturday 21 September to clean up their local neighbourhood in Tanjong Priok, North Jakarta. The enthusiastic children prepared by putting on blue gloves and white pins worn by all volunteers, before they listened to a briefing by their teachers about what waste should go in which sack when cleaning up. At 7am, the teachers and students started cleaning up litter in their area for a period of 2 hours.
This was the scene at 133 locations across the sprawling archipelago of Indonesia on Saturday morning, as over 900,0000 volunteers braved the early morning, local traffic, and even haze from forest fires in some provinces, to make a stand against littering and plastic waste in Indonesia.
“I’m here because it is nice for us all to have a clean environment to live in, and I want this good feeling to be felt by everyone,” said Marissa Anita, local TV personality and actress as she picked up cigarette butts and plastic straws strewn on the sidewalks by Pasar Tebet Barat, South Jakarta. Anita has been a supporter of the movement since 2013, when the event was still only carried out in the nation’s capital, Jakarta. This year, the organizers have expanded with this new locally-named event, which they hope everyone in Indonesia will be proud to participate in.
“It’s important that Indonesia has one day a year dedicated towards taking action and volunteering to raise awareness to the very serious problem of littering and plastic,” says Angela Richardson, founder of Indonesia Indah Foundation, the non-profit organization responsible for Hari Bersih Indonesia. “I am a firm believer that picking up litter is the simplest, most eye-opening experience one can have, and is the first step towards initiating a change in mindsets for people in Indonesia,” Richardson continues, speaking from personal experience.
Besides 33 locations which were cleaned up in DKI Jakarta and the Thousand Islands, Hari Bersih Indonesia activities took place in an additional 100 locations spread across 28 provinces, including Yogyakarta, Jepara, Bandung, Bekasi, Indramayu, Garut, Banten, Malang, Bali, Sumatra, Riau islands, Lampung, Bengkulu, Sumbawa, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Ambon, Papua and West Papua.
Volunteers came from all walks of life, from students and teachers, communities and NGOs, to CEOs and business leaders, such as business mogul Edwin Soeryadjaya. He was spotted cleaning up on Jl. Tebet Barat Raya in South Jakarta, alongside former vice-presidential candidate, Sandiaga Uno, who stopped to pick up litter after an early morning bicycle ride. They were accompanied by vice mayor of South Jakarta, Isnawa Adji, an advocate for the movement, who also spoke about the importance of this event at the closing ceremony, which took place directly after the cleaning up activities at Taman Honda Tebet in South Jakarta.
Garbage that was picked up was collected by the local environmental departments (Dinas Lingkungan Hidup). The volunteers collected a total of 45,254.53kg of litter from streets, rivers, countryside and oceans. Volunteers were trained to separate litter into recyclable and non-recyclable bags, in order for the recyclable items to be further sorted and recycled at local waste banks across the country.