Isabel Wijsen is a 20-year-old Dutch-Indonesian activist currently working as a senior at Green School, Bali. She is the founder of Bye Bye Plastic Bags, which she co-founded in 2013 at just 10 years old, alongside her 12-year-old sister, Melati.
After discovering that less than 5% of plastic bags in Bali were being recycled, and Indonesia was the second largest plastic polluter in the world, Isabel and her sister decided to begin their campaign Bye Bye Plastic Bags with the help of other children in Bali. To gain more public attention, the campaign organized beach cleanups, distribution of alternative bags, and engaged with local communities, businesses, and government officials to promote the adoption of eco-friendly practises. They organised a 20,000-person beach cleanup in 2018, which collected 65 pounds of waste. The sisters also started a petition in 2015 which would eventually gather 100,000 signatures. After staging a dawn to dusk hunger strike, they were able to successfully arrange a meeting with Bali’s then governor, and as of June 23, 2019, the Balinese government officially enforced a ban on plastic bags, straws, and styrofoam. This campaign, advocating for the rejection of plastic bags, ultimately led to the first Indonesian province implementing the ban. Bye Bye Plastic Bags has now become a youth-driven NGO with 50+ global teams in over 40 countries. Isabel Wijsen’s achievements were recognised by her inclusion in the 30 Most Influential Teens by Time magazine in 2018.
Isabel Wijsen is also a cofounder of the Youthtopia movement, which focuses on empowering young people to contribute to positive societal reform. Through her leadership and advocacy, she has emphasized the critical role of youth in shaping a more sustainable and eco-conscious world.
Isabel is an accomplished storyteller. In 2017, she spoke at the United Nations, and continues to express her passion for talking in classrooms, helping to positively influence and encourage young people.
Isabel Wijsen is an inspiration and testament to the immense impact that young individuals can have on addressing global challenges. Her dedication to reducing plastic waste and raising awareness on environmental issues has not only transformed her local community in Bali but has also sparked a global movement, reminding us all of the power of youth-led activism.
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