Last Tuesday I attended an interesting event by Kata Data and UNDP Indonesia about Climate Change in the National Library. There were 4 different panels with amazing speakers: (1) Ocean & Forest, (2) Waste Management, (3) Gender, and (4) Youth. Due to
traffic family matters, I could only attend Panel #2 and #3. Both panels gave insightful thoughts, especially the former one. Other than the conference itself, the organizer also arranged a few stalls (around 7 or 8) outside the auditorium filled with sustainable shops and projects.
The panel was started with a presentation from Kata Data, an online research and media company, who displayed their data analysis and recommendation regarding waste management in Indonesia. Waste Management is known as the procedure to handle waste from the beginning collection until final disposal. One of the recommendations was to provide an incentive to the public who sort out their rubbish for easier disposal process. If there was an incentive, the survey’s respondents, who would be willing to sort out their waste, are increasing to 98% from less than 70%. The target should include the garbage collectors and waste companies too. It’s no use for each household sorting out their rubbish if the collectors mix them again.
Then the discussion began between the moderator and 5 experienced representatives from ADUPI / Asosiasi Daur Ulang Plastik Indonesia (Indonesian plastic recycle association), UNDP Indonesia, Waste4Change, Sustainable Waste Indonesia, and Inaplas / Asosiasi Industri Olefin, Aromatik dan Plastik Indonesia (Indonesian olefin, aromatic and plastic industry association). They countered some public misunderstandings such as importing waste from developed countries. Many Indonesian citizens, especially the Social Justice Warrior (SJW), complained about why we still imported waste from other countries when we had too much of our own. Some landfills were already out of capacity, such as in Bali. Moreover, Bantar Gebang, the largest landfill in Bekasi, in fact in the world, as Leonardo DiCaprio pointed out recently, is projected to be overloaded and closed in the year 2021, if nothing’s changed. The truth is, even though our country’s waste is a lot but it is more difficult to process than waste coming from other countries, which is already sorted and cleaned. Sometimes it is cheaper for Indonesian companies to use imported waste as their sources for them to keep running and be profitable. Because, we need to maintain the economy of the waste industry in the bigger picture. The government also made sure that we only accept safe and non-radiative waste, so it was nonsense that we received every waste coming from other countries.
Another misconception going on in the public was about paper vs plastic. First, do not fall into a trap by one developed country as one of the biggest paper exporters in the world. Paper is not always easy to recycle. Therefore, reduce paper usage as much as you reduce plastic. Secondly, the thin cheap plastic bag offered by stores is not always bad. It is better to reuse those shopping plastic bags as a garbage bag rather than to use the big black thick garbage bag. The latter is more difficult to recycle later on. In addition, the single-use plastic such as food containers, bottles, and cutlery actually can be used several times. Think logically, if a plastic takes years to decompose, then its endurance and quality last for a long time, and it means it can be used more than once.
To my surprise, the organizer provided a lunch box to participants. That was great so I did not have to look for meals to eat before the next panel started. I also had time to print my library’s card and roam around to see the stalls in the corridor outside the hall. One of the interesting stalls was an SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) roulette by UNDP. We could try to roll the roulette to get which of 17 SDG we had, and we’re asked a question based on that goal to get a price of a Tupperware tumbler. I tried to play and got an SDG#7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) question: what are the 5 renewable energy? Having been just watching Frozen 2 a few days before, I was about to answer with (spoiler alert!) wind, water, fire, earth, and Elsa. The answer is wind, water, solar, geothermal, and biomass. Before the next panel started, there was a music performance by Tashoora, an instrumental music group from Yogyakarta specialized in lyrics about social issues, such as racist conflict and sexual assault.
This panel section discussed the role of gender, especially women in facing the climate crisis. Women can have a role as the agents of change who initiate the responsible movement, or they can suffer the most by the climate crisis impact such as no clean sanitation’s access during menstruation or pregnancy. Personally, I am not a feminist and I believe any gender will bear great affect from climate change in a different form, so I am not writing here more details about that. However, I am interested in one of the speakers in the panel who has practiced zero waste life with her family for a few years.
Like the other audience, I amazed how Andhini Miranda together with her husband and a 7-year-old son produced only 2 small bottles of waste in the past one year. They have compost bin in their house to throw the organic waste to produce fertilizer, and minimize their unorganic waste as much as possible by using their own containers and bags anywhere they go, and shopping from “unpacked markets” (Pasar Curah) where you can buy cooking oil, sugar, salt and other things without the packaging. Too bad this kind of Pasar Curah is still not common, and so far there are only 5 of them in Jakarta and Tangerang. I might not be as extreme as Andhini, but I’m inspired to reduce my waste as much as I can.
In summary, while the Waste Management panel argued plastic regulation had a little impact on our waste and we should invest in waste management instead, the Gender panel said that we should start doing responsible actions from ourselves rather than (hope to) build expensive waste management. I think both of them can be integrated. The Indonesian government needs to improve its waste management processes, but at the same time, we the residents can start managing our waste by applying 3R = reduce, reuse and recycle. Reducing your waste by bringing your own bags for groceries, or your own food containers for gorengan. Reusing your waste by printing the other side of the used paper, or reusing the plastic bags over and over again. Recycling might be a little bit difficult to apply by you own if you do not have the skills or knowledge but the good news is, currently there are many garbage banks (such as Waste4Change) that accept your unorganic waste like glasses, plastics and cartons, so you can send your waste there for recycling.
Many people are still ignorant in the Climate Change phenomenon. Perhaps we should change the name into Climate Disaster or Climate Doomsday, to make people consider this issue more serious. Climate Crisis is really happening, and it is up to us to stop it.