Melati & Isabel Wijsen of Bye Bye Plastic Bag

Woman's Career


When we were kids, our voice is hardly taken seriously by adults. Kids are considered less serious because they’re just kids. Adults think that kids know nothing about life and just want to have fun. But, unlike these girls. At such young age, Melati & Isabel already made a huge impact on the island they live now, Bali.


Melati & Isabel started Bye Bye Plastic Bag to raise awareness and encourage people not to use plastics on daily life. As we know that plastics are dangerous to the environment, BBPB encourages people to use alternative bags for shopping. They admit it that it’s been four years they don’t use plastic bags.


Kids are the future. The earth needs more kids like Melati & Isabel Wijsen. But, Melati & Isabel had some obstacles when they started this BBPB. And their hard work eventually paid off when some people aware of the danger of plastic, and won’t use a plastic bag again. The It Girl is lucky that we can interview these inspiring girls.


So, do you want to know how they started? Scroll down…


Name: Melati & Isabel Wijsen

Age: 16 & 14

Year you started Bye Bye Plastic Bag: 2013

Location: Bali


Can you tell what makes you create this movement? What was the trigger?

It came down to two things that happened at the same time; the first is that my sister and I had a lesson in class about positive world leaders, change makers, like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Lady Diana. And I remember at the age of 10 & 12 we went home that day thinking, “Okay, well, what can we do live on the island of Bali as kids? What can we do now?” We didn’t want to wait until we were older to stand up for what we believe in. So, as we started brainstorming at home on all the issues Bali was facing one thing stood out to us the most: garbage.


Growing up on the island surrounded by ocean we see the heavy negative impact Plastic has. There’s no escaping it here. The plastic problem is SO in your face, and we thought “Well, who’s going to do something about it?” But that’s just it, you often forget that YOU are that ONE person it takes to start the change. So that is when my sister and I, at 10 & 12. We created Bye Bye Plastic Bags–an NGO is driven by youth to get the people on Bali to say no to plastic bags.


You started this at such very young age. Do you have any difficulties when you started this? How did you overcome it?

We started when we 10 & 12 years old. With our team, we have come across many obstacles. From dealing with frustrations, politicians, and wondering HOW we can be taken more than just an inspiration. How can we be taken seriously and included in the decisions? Our persistence, commitment, and the voices of youth have really been raised. People see our actions, our passion, and they want to listen now!


Most people use people plastics on daily life for shopping and others because it’s more convenient. Do you have any suggestions how Indonesian people should stop using plastics?

It’s always handy to have alternative bags, these are also great cause they are reusable! Keep them in your car, or in the seat of your sepeda motor. You can even get a creative bag that folds into a keychain, so you can always have it with you. It’s about becoming more aware, educate yourself so you can contribute to the world you want to live in.

img_351013124516_1040570482690123_279008930517520786_nYou started this movement in Bali. Do you have any plans to make other cities in Indonesia to be plastic-free?

BBPB has now become a global movement where young people carry the message of saying no to plastic bags. Today you can find us in 9 different countries. In Indonesia, we have already spread to Jakarta, our capital. We are working with some students in Batam and possibly Lombok as well to start BBPB. If you’re interested read more:


Have you ever had an experience that forced you to use plastics? When and How?

Sometimes we hear people say that it is difficult to say no to plastic bags. And yes, it can be difficult–but it is not impossible. For the past four years, our family has not used a plastic bag! Sometimes we forget to bring our alternative bags, but then we just carry it quickly to the car or buy one ready-to-go alternative bags.


Can you tell us your daily activities from morning and night? How do you manage your time between school stuff and Bye Bye Plastic Bags?

We are really lucky to be students at the Greenschool. Our school time can be flexible as they believe with Bye Bye Plastic Bags we learn a lot too. So in the mornings, we will wake up at 6:30 am and head off to school at 7:30 am. Isabel goes to school every day of the week. I only go to school twice a week. And the rest of the week I’m at our Bye Bye Plastic Bags office, working on some emails/social media and action planning. We are always home at 4:30 pm and then we do homework, or just relax from the busy day!


What is the most memorable moment you have since you started Bye Bye Plastic Bags? Can you tell us why?

Ah! There are so many, so many good and memorable moments during the past four years. Our team, all the adventures! When I think back to where we are and all that we have done, one of the most memorable moments is the first time we stood on stage. We weren’t great at all at public speaking. But it was the first time we stood up and spoke about what we were passionate about, how we saw solutions happening and it fueled our energy to keep going!


Who is the most inspiring role model for both of you? Why?

There are many people we look up to, some of our heroes come from the past like Nelson Mandela, Lady Diana, Mahatma Gandhi; and many of our heroes live around us today! Malala, Boyan Slat, Xiuhtezcatl, these three are special. They were also very young when they started to speak up! And still, today they continue with the same youthful, strong, energy to fight for what they believe in.


What messages/bits of advice you can give to The It Girl readers?

Us, kids, may only be 25% of the world’s population, but we are 100% of the future. Find that one thing that you are passionate about, and go for it. Focus on a realistic target and have fun with it, don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young or you don’t understand. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!


Winny Irmarooke

Co-Founder & Editor