The awareness and concern for Indonesia’s environment is still low in comparison with other countries.
However, education is improving and our awareness of the environment is growing.
If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught, it is to be more compassionate towards our planet and our environment. We need to nurture and care for it – doing so allows us to live healthier lives.
Our inattention has caused many environmental problems. Overflowing trash piles are a major problem in Indonesia, particularly in Jakarta. Plastic waste and trash will always be around. There are ways to reduce them to the minimum. This is based on the information that we have now about the types and recycling options for these wastes.
Plastic is one such waste that’s recyclable into various creative products. Many organizations have stepped up to the challenge of doing something good for the environment. They convert plastic and other types of waste into useful products for others. One such organization is XSProject – XS means excessive. XSProject was established in 2004 by many trash pickers in Jakarta, out of concern for the environment and lack of awareness about garbage disposal. XSProject focuses primarily in the Cirendeu region on a trash picker group.
XSProject, a non-profit organisation, has experienced many ups as well as downs. Their goal has been to encourage consumers reduce waste and create products from it. However, the journey is not always as smooth and quick as they would like. Their concerns for the environment, and the social problems of trash pickers, was the focus of their initial journey in 2004.
To help clean up garbage in Jakarta, XSProject started an initiative to buy garbage that the trash pickers don’t manage to sell with the hope of purchases becoming an additional income. The plastic packaging waste collected from trash pickers is then processed through a sorting process and washed to make raw materials that can be used to make functional and high-quality products.
XSProject uses only waste that isn’t picked up by trash pickers to make recycled products. This approach doesn’t affect livelihoods as many types of waste can’t be recycled but can be reused, repurposed, and upcycled into new products.
The foundation grew over time with a constant focus on its mission and vision. The foundation eventually created a company that distributes recycled products. This company then funded the campaign to reduce waste, and create new products from it. Retno Hapsari, Head of the Foundation, says, “Our products are used as a campaign tool and a means of reminding and educating people to refuse or reduce waste and to think of solutions for unprocessed waste.”
As people are starting to understand more about plastic as a cause of environmental damage, XSProject also educates trash pickers’ children, including children who are not trash pickers, regarding the importance of reducing waste and avoiding plastic. Their parents collect plastic waste as part their daily lives, so it is difficult to educate them. They are constantly surrounded by plastic and other garbage in their daily lives. On the one hand, they’re taught to reduce, but on the other hand, their parents must collect garbage to be sold and made into products. This project aims to end the generational cycle that believes picking up trash is the only way to go in life.
In order to continue their support of the children, the organization constructed a facility for them and their families. The construction was completed and the pandemic struck, which proved to be a blessing for the children by providing them with learning support facilities. Students from high school and college can use the facility to access the internet to complete their assignments as well as Zoom video calls to support their school activities. During the pandemics, health check activities were available at the facility for parents and children.
Retno’s driving force throughout her time at XSProject was seeing the children of trash pickers change and the desire to get an education so they can break the cycle of litter-picking. Over the years, the foundation has had success stories of children graduating from high school and some going on to university.
It was difficult for parents to understand the importance education for their children at the beginning. Mothers in the community shared how they wanted to go to high school but couldn’t. It was a chance for their children not to have the same fate. They can see the importance of education and reap the benefits of the foundation.
XSProject has been around 15 years. We may be wondering, have they had a significant impact? Retno said, It all depends upon money and resources. The waste problem is not only about receiving the money to be able to go to school because this is a social problem and a problem of habit – a mindset that takes a long time. Even though XSProjectIt has been around for a while now. The trash pickers will still be there because the garbage is still there. If this mindset isn’t changed, then everything will remain the same. Because we don’t have many options, we can’t get rid of the trash we collect.
Their impact is indirect because they change the mindset through education. They want to make trash pickers and their kids happy and live prosperous lives. They provide cleaner and more comfortable facilities for trash pickers, which helps them live longer and healthier lives.
Retno shared a touching story about Pak Noto, who was once a trash picker at XSProject. But due to the pandemic he returned to his village. He began farming in his village, which made him happier, provided him with a better income and made him more comfortable. XSProject was able to achieve their target because their education had changed his mindset and he was willing to try new things for a better life.
The foundation strives to be a catalyst for the transformation of unwanted waste into quality products. They also focus on helping children who pick up trash to have a better life and a better future. The inspiring job of trash picker child is a great example of how an organization can be impactful. XSProject All of us should take into consideration what they are doing. They cannot do it on their own; we all have to work together to make a change in our mindsets for a cleaner, better environment. Retno states that we must.
Care for the environment and care for the people.”