Founder of YOUTHTOPIA & Bye Bye Plastic Bags
For me, the future world is one that has an empowered generation to lead positive change.
Tell us your story – how did you get here?
Wow – this story feels like a rollercoaster to share! I started my journey as a changemaker when I was 12 years-old, even before I knew what the word changemaker was! As I was growing up in Bali, I saw the problem of plastic get worse. Long story short, my sister and I at the age of 10 and 12 years-old decided enough was enough and that we didn’t want to wait until we were older to take action. We started Bye Bye Plastic Bags in 2013 and have been campaigning at the frontlines ever since! We now have 60 teams around the world and have become one of the largest youth-led organisations in Indonesia.
Today at 22 years old, my focus is split between my NGO as well as on building the number one go-to platform for young changemakers, through my new company YOUTHTOPIA. YOUTHTOPIA started when I began noticing that we got asked the same question no matter where we were; students our age would ask, “How can I do what you do?” YOUTHTOPIA helps answer that question by bringing frontline knowledge onto the screens of thousands, highlighting and showcasing real life examples of young changemakers creating change. We share the HOW to become a changemaker with over 108 programs already created and slowly releasing on our new Youthtopia learning platform.
I’ve spoken on global stages like TED and addressed leaders at the UN General Assembly, and travelled the world to film a documentary highlighting other youth leaders that premiered on the red carpets of the Cannes Film Festival. It’s bizarre and I’m only here because at 12 years-old I saw a problem (plastic pollution) and I asked one simple question “what am I going to do about it?”. What came after that was a wave of support from the community in Bali and beyond! We quickly realised that our vision of a plastic bag-free Bali was a shared one and together with many we worked hard to get to where we are today. Personally, after 10 years, my goal is to share all of my lessons learnt on the frontlines with as many youth as possible through YOUTHTOPIA.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of starting Bye Bye Plastic Bags and watching how it has become a living example that kids can do things. I love hearing how young people have started taking action after hearing how we started at 10 and 12 years-old.
What impact have you made in Bali?
Locally, we’ve distributed 11,000 educational booklets from which students can learn about the plastic problem and how they can actively be a part of the solution. We’ve also created a social enterprise called Mountain Mamas, which is a social enterprise that empowers local women in a local village on the slopes of Mt. Batu Karu to produce alternative bags from pre-loved material. Overall in the last 10 years, our impact has mostly been towards youth-led change and focusing on the importance of environmental education.
What does the future look like for you?
My goal is to build YOUTHTOPIA to become the go-to learning platform for young changemakers. It will keep me busy for the next few years as we develop more programmes and work to share these lessons in classrooms all around the world. For me, the future world is one that has an empowered generation to lead positive change.
What do you love most about Bali?
It’s hard to choose! There are so many things I love about Bali. But most importantly, I love the feeling of home that it brings. It’s the culture and the nature that feel like a grounding hug. The smell of the dupa (incense), the sounds of ceremony mixed with the ocean! Bali is my home, and that’s my favourite thing about it.
Any advice for those wanting to make a meaningful change?
My first piece of advice is for you to get focused! There are so many challenges to solve, but we need everyone and we need all skills. So, focus on what you are good at and the type of change you want to create. Secondly, build your support system – your team. You cannot do it alone. Last but definitely not least, my advice is to think outside the box and stay creative, have fun! We won’t solve any of these challenges with the same thinking that created them!
Who is your Local Legend and why?
My Local Legend is Flora Christin Butarbutar, Indonesia’s first competitive longboard surfer, for her leadership in female empowerment and how she shares her love for a clean healthy ocean too!