Woman inspires citizens to collect hundreds of tons of plastic in a bid to solve Bali’s pollution crisis

On a terrible day this past February, global conservationist and human rights advocate Debbie Dooley was watching a baby elephant cry when she said to herself, “It’s time.” “What is he crying for?” Dooley,…

Woman inspires citizens to collect hundreds of tons of plastic in a bid to solve Bali’s pollution crisis

On a terrible day this past February, global conservationist and human rights advocate Debbie Dooley was watching a baby elephant cry when she said to herself, “It’s time.”

“What is he crying for?” Dooley, an animal-care expert and British-born humanitarian, asked herself while clutching a young baby elephant in her arms. “What is he losing that every breath is agony?”

At that moment, she realized she could no longer ignore her “inner elephant.” “When I saw a baby losing its mother, I saw a baby losing its life,” she told New York Magazine.

Dooley took the unusual step of revealing her experience publicly in March, writing a powerful letter to the chief of Botswana’s elephants titled, “Dear Honorable Cattle farmer.” She wrote:

We love elephants; they are often asked how we came to love elephants so much. The answer is simple: elephants are friends. We have become even better friends because they are so much more than beautiful animals. They are mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and mothers of our children and they give us love and care like no other animal on the planet.

But a busy tourist destination like Bali — located on a tropical archipelago of tropical islands — has one of the most consistently problematic plastic pollution problems on Earth. Despite Indonesia being the fifth-biggest plastic polluter in the world, Bali’s environment ministry has no plan to reduce the flow of plastic, despite the latest estimates — presented by Bloomberg — that show that as much as 1.7 million tons of plastic per year comes through its borders.

T.Gem, an eco-conscious local enterprise that Dooley co-founded, sent three members to Bali to interview residents about plastic pollution problems. They visited Bali’s train stations, hotels, schools, and surf shops and collected nearly 500 tons of plastic. This included 15 plastic containers full of its polypropylene fragments.

After their mission, Dooley and T.Gem developed a comprehensive plastic strategy for Bali. They’ve collected 175 tons of plastic to date, and will send a project manager to northern Bali with plans to begin recycling by the end of the year.

Dooley hopes that many more people will join them. “I am really, really pleased that we are encouraging people to go and collect plastic,” she said. “Because, not only are we doing the world a service but we are doing our local community a service. I hope the world will go on this fantastic mission together.”

Read the full story at New York Magazine.

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