Two months later, they paddle-boarded their way along two of New York City’s most polluted waterways.
“At the rate that we are destroying our planet, we believe that no idea is crazy enough to protect it,” says Gary, who founded Make A Change with Sam 10 years ago to help clean up the beaches on their home island of Bali.
Fast-forward to 2020. Younger brother Sam is just weeks away from completing a coast-to-coast run across the United States to raise awareness of the plastic pollution problem – and Gary is preparing to launch Make A Change’s latest initiative to solve the plastic crisis at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.
Called Sungai Watch – from the Indonesian for river – it’s an online platform that uses GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping and artificial intelligence (AI) to see details in rivers of up to 10 centimeters.
“Imagine watching the cleanup of the world’s most polluted river in real time,” says Gary, who hopes it will become the go-to platform to clean rivers around the globe.
For now, his ambition is to install 100 trash barriers in Bali’s rivers to catch the plastic waste before it reaches the ocean.
l materials – stainless steel and galvanized steel wire mesh, suspended from PVC pipes.
Karsten Hirsch, CEO of Plastic Fischer, says, “We are convinced that we need a cheap solution that you can build within a few days, that you can do it on your own and put it into every river in the world.”
Turning the tide on plastic
The launch of the first trash boom on a tributary of the Ayung river, Bali’s most important waterway, was attended by Dr. Ir. Safri Burhanuddin, Coordinating Minister of Maritime affairs, who praised Make A Change and reconfirmed the country’s commitment to solving its plastic pollution problem.
“The government has committed to the UN and the world that we have to reduce at least 70% of the marine litter to the sea by 2025…Gary has made a movement to make sure Indonesia achieves this target.”
As Gary prepares to launch Sungai Watch globally in Davos, he says, “If we can stop plastic pollution before it reaches our ocean, we’ll be able to drastically reduce this problem before it becomes uncontrollable.”