, , , - Posted on April 01, 2020

Meet our youth activist of the week, Thara Bening from Indonesia

Break Free From Plastic

Meet our Youth Activist of the week, Thara Bening. Thara established River Warrior, a group of high school students that wanted to provide a solution to the plastic pollution problem in Brantas River, Indonesia. Since this time, Thara has been demonstrating to pass regulations on single-use plastic, has been monitoring their rivers, and educating her community about the dangers of plastic to our health. Get to know more about her story and what motivates her in our quick interview!

Q: What is your story and how did your journey start?
K: In January 2019, River Warrior was established. River Warrior is a team or a group of teenagers 13-19 years old, that have the same desire to be part of the solution of the problem in Brantas River. River Warrior's vision is to make our river in east java, Brantas River, to be free of plastic. The biggest problem that’s been happening in Brantas River is throwing disposable diapers. Despite the fact that people get drinking water from the river, everyday 1.3 million pieces of diapers are thrown on Brantas River. 47% of the inorganic waste composition in Brantas river is Diapers, 12% plastic sachet, 11% styrofoam, and 10% plastic bags. Many people in east java still believe a myth called Suleten, that is if you burned baby's diaper, the baby will get sick, but if you throw it to the river, then the baby will feel cool.

Since I was little, my parents always took me along with them to work. Both of my parents are activists, so when I was in high school I felt motivated by my parents. Every day, I go to school I see people throwing their trash on the roadside or to the river, some people even burn it to get rid of it. It is because our government doesn't provide us with trash bins or waste transportation so people don't know what to do with their waste.

I wanted to do something, but I felt like I had to have a team to do this, so I asked help from my closest friends and sisters to start River Warrior. We do river cleanups, river monitoring, microplastic in fish stomach analysis, selling reusable cloth menspad in schools, do plastic exhibitions in schools, and also do demonstration, and sent letters to our government saying they should make a regulation to banned single used plastic and provide us waste transportation and trash bins.

Right now, we can see many people in the community started to reduce plastic and a few of my friends used cloth menspad, and also our government provides the special trash bin for residual waste like diapers in some villages.

Q: What values have you learned throughout your journey?
The most important value that I get in river warrior is that indeed not many people want to be part of the solution, but when we are frequently surrounded by people like us who motivate us to overcome the problems around us, that is my biggest support and that's what makes us keep fighting if we do the right thing, there will be good people who will come to help without being asked.

To learn more about how to take action, join our Plastic-free Campuses Movement at bit.ly/plasticfreecampuses to get our emails on online trainings, resources, and our growing network of students and administrators going plastic-free.

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