Founder of Bye Bye Plastic Bags
Never underestimate the power of youth. Take, for example, the case of Melati Wijsen. When she was just twelve years old, Melati and her sister Isabel started Bye Bye Plastic Bags, the Bali-based movement that became a global youth-driven sensation to eliminate plastic bags in Bali and elsewhere. Today, the inspirational 21-year-old is focused on another initiative she founded, called Youthtopia, which empowers frontline young changemakers to create the impact they want to see.
“In all corners of the world, whether it’s New York City, Tokyo or Maluku, I get invited to tell the story of Bye Bye Plastic Bags. And at the end of that, there are always questions along the lines of: ‘Melati, how can I create change? Where do I start?’ This is the main philosophy and belief of Youthtopia. Every young person can be a changemaker, but not every young person knows where and how to start,” she shares. “So, what we do at Youthtopia is create a platform where we can learn how to get started on our own changemaking journey and, more importantly, not only how to get started, but also how to keep going. We provide role models, share stories of young people who are already doing change. And because they can do it, every young person can do it. That’s the vision and the bigger picture of how Youthtopia came into place.”
Unsurprisingly, this is also how Melati herself deals with the challenges she faces: by remembering that there’s a bigger picture and how she’s not alone. “That’s the power of Youthtopia, with all these other changemakers coming together, that’s what brings me motivation and hope,” she explains. “I started when I was 12 years old, and I’m now 21. I personally felt that when I was 12 years old, I wished that a platform and community like Youthtopia existed. Now, there are 200 young changemakers from 50 countries around the world, and we work together to create programs. Today all of my focus and energy goes towards building this for the other 12 years old out there.”