River Warrior and co-founder of Sungai Watch
We have cleaned up over 430,000 kilos of plastics from Bali’s waterways since we started Sungai Watch and are cleaning up more than 100 rivers every single day with 55 amazing Sungai Warriors
In 2020, Gary Bencheghib and his two siblings set out to save Bali’s waterways by creating Sungai Watch – a team of river warriors working to create solutions to water pollution across the island. Within the first 16 months, the team has installed 130 trash barriers in Bali’s rivers, and diverted over 430,000 kilos of trash. The siblings and the Sungai Watch team aim to install trash barriers in every river in Indonesia by 2025, and expand their work internationally.
Tell us your story – how did you get here?
I grew up on this magical island since the age of nine and very quickly saw the rapid impacts of plastic pollution. Every rainy season, Bali becomes the island of plastic. So at 14 years-old, I decided to do something about it and started cleaning up the beaches. 13 years later, after having travelled to some of the worst rivers in the world, we are on a full mission to clean Indonesia’s rivers with Sungai Watch (our newest project). We placed our first barrier 16 months ago and now have 130 across south Bali.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Last summer, we stumbled across Denpasar’s Mangroves that were entirely clogged in plastics. There was literally a one-metre layer of plastic for hectares and hectares. In eight months, we have cleaned up over 30 hectares and are seeing part of the mangrove forest grow back to life.
What impact have you made in Bali?
We have cleaned up over 430,000 kilos of plastics from Bali’s waterways since we started Sungai Watch and are cleaning up more than 100 rivers every single day with 55 amazing Sungai Warriors, our full time Bali team.
What does 2022 look like for you?
We are currently on a mission to achieve our next goal of installing 1000 barriers in Indonesia’s most polluted rivers. Over the next few months, we are excited to be expanding to North Bali and Java to prevent as much plastic from ending up in the ocean and start addressing the issue at the source.
What do you love most about Bali?
The diversity of nature. Everyday at Sungai Watch, we get to fully indulge in so many natural treasures the island has to offer.
What's the one change in the world you’d like to see?
Changing our addiction to single-use plastics.
Who is your Local Legend and why?
Our Sungai Warriors. They are giving everything they can to protect our home. They fuel me, inspire me and show us that everything is possible!