Three years ago Christine Parfitt, a marine biologist from Western Australia, was volunteering at a turtle conservation project in West Bali, Indonesia. Parfitt was on a year long volunteer assignment when she met an incredibly passionate teacher with a deep love for the environment.
Pak Yasa is a junior high school teacher who leads students on camping trips, bird watching activities, and turtle egg conservation. While joining Pak Yasa and his students, Parfitt noticed that these passionate students would clean up a beach and then drink from single-use plastic cups. She realised that there was a gap in education on single-use plastic waste. Together with Pak Yasa she set about creating an Environmental Education Program that would lead generational change away from single-use plastics.
Today, more than 3,045 students and teachers have completed the program, each receiving a stainless steel bottle that they can now refill at school. The bottles are all designed by students in an annual competition which gives the students ownership and a sense of pride for their bottles. For each bottle that is purchased, the cost of a bottle donation and education materials to a student in Bali is covered. Each school participating in the program also receives a water stand so that the canteen can sell water refills to students instead of water in plastic packaging.
To date more than 100,000 plastic cups have been prevented from entering waste streams through the students dedicated use of their bottles. The program recently expanded, launching at four new schools in Nusa Lembongan. In 2017, more than 2,000 students and teachers are due to participate in the program and receive their bottles.