Racing Towards A Crash with Bantar Gebang Landfill

So we went home from the seminar haunted by a spooky question: why do we prefer to clean up after our waste instead of preventing the massive waste to be happened instead? We got an alarming news this month, that National Geographic deemed TPST Bantar Gebang  to be thought as the biggest dumpsite in the world. 

It’s not the biggest landfill in the world for sure, the terms might confuse you. TPST Bantar Gebang should be an open landfill, but it isn’t equipped with proper waste management/recycling system yet. Their waste-to-energy plant (called PLTSA Merah Putih) is more or less still a pilot project, started in March 2019 with managing capacity up to 100 tonnes per day. They are building Intermediate Treatment Facility (ITF) for further management effort, but it’s estimated to start to operate by 2022.

Problem is, TPST Bantar Gebang is also being predicted to reach its peak around 2021. 

Rounded up at 110 hectare in surface area, this open landfill is packed with 39 million tonnes of waste at the end of 2018, around 29% of it was plastic waste. The maximum capacity? 49 million tonnes. Being force fed with 7000-8000 tonnes of more waste per day, in two years we can kiss it bye bye. 

Picture courtesy: Andrew W. Bassford.

Picture courtesy: Andrew W. Bassford.

It’s one thing to lost our city’s personal waste-bin, but sometimes we forgot that there are  actual people residing right in the middle of it.

Recently, one of our Bantar Gebang MOC women was forced to move out from her semi permanent house because the landfill needs more land to be covered in waste. We know we couldn’t do anything as the land wasn’t belong to her, but this gives us a cold hard slap  to see how such impact could probably be avoided by simply slowing down our excessive consumption rate, and be more mindful.

Picture courtesy: Andrew W. Bassford.

Picture courtesy: Andrew W. Bassford.

Pemkot Bekasi proposed to receive 367 billion rupiah in 2020 for Bantar Gebang compensation fund, and 351,8 billion rupiah for partnership assistance fund regarding TPST Bantar Gebang. The compensation fund was 141 billion rupiah in 2019, it should be distributed to the locals to compensate the health risk of living in the middle of a giant dump. Air and water quality is unquestionably terrible, and being exposed to disease carrying flies, rats, it’s truly not worth 900 thousands rupiah per 3 months. 

My mind fled to the last sustainable tourism seminar again because one of our panelists said, our current mentality regarding waste problem is like preferring to mop up the water from our leaked ceiling every single time, rather than rolling our sleeves up and fix the leak. In this case, the leak will get us drowned very soon.

Picture courtesy: Andrew W. Bassford.

Picture courtesy: Andrew W. Bassford.

I remember when I was a kid, people were using much less plastic than now. We bought cooking oil (coconut oil, plastic bottled palm oil wasn’t the norm back then), with our own bottle or container. We wrap street foods in up-cycled paper bag or takir from banana leaves, and people would give us selamatan food in weaved bamboo box (besek). Chocolate were wrapped in foil and paper before the rampant growth of hot sealed plastic packaging. I’m not that old so I’m baffled with how fast things changed. We could survive with less single use plastic, why can’t we now? Well, to be fair I didn’t grow up in a big city so maybe it’s not that simple. TPA Bantar Gebang itself has been operating since 1989. 

If we still need a final wake up call, a harsh one is already delivered by the news of TPST Bantar Gebang’s current state. As consumers we have the power to choose, as citizens we have the power to push forward, all we need to do is to punch the button and start. We have to believe.

- Written by Nurul Putri

MVB Sustainable Tourism Seminar 2019

Last Thursday (September the 19th, 2019), I Want to Smell The Perfume had a wonderful chance to be present at an Ecotourism seminar, arranged by MVB (Most Valuable Businesses) Indonesia. We got to meet and listen to the experts from sustainable tourism industry. The seminar was opened with a thought provoking key note speaker presentation by MVB’s Chairman, Mr. Alistair G. Speirs, after a speech from Switzerland Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Kurt Kunz.

Mr. Speirs presented general overview on how tourism industry, or over-tourism to be specific, has damaged the area instead of sustaining it and supporting the locals. Either over gentrification and commercialisation (which wipes out the original culture and personality of the places to cater tourists’ preference), or lack of respect from the aforementioned tourists in absence of implemented and law binding regulations. 

 
Mr. Alistair G. Speirs, opening the seminar ( photo courtesy: MVB documentation team ).

Mr. Alistair G. Speirs, opening the seminar (photo courtesy: MVB documentation team).

 

The seminar was divided into two sessions. In the first session, two initial panelists were representatives of Indonesian government: Ms. Valerina Daniel from The Ministry of Tourism and Mr Harry Wibowo from Department of Tourism and Culture of DKI Jakarta. 

Ms. Valerina presented a video of two ISTA (Indonesia Sustainable Tourism Award) winners: Desa Penglipuran in Bali and Desa Wisata Nglanggeran in Yogyakarta, and brief explanation about the award. Mr. Harry also showed us a video of Jakarta as a metropolitan tourism object, with its shopping malls, restaurants, spas, golf courses and music concerts. Jakarta is a well diversified city and commercial entertainment is part of its appeals, that’s true. It’s also great to see the positive face of our tourism, but none of these panelists really addressed the overgrown problematic side. It seemed like the audiences got the same thought, they were restless with questions but alas, unfortunately they had to leave before the first Q&A forum got started (oops). 

 
Ms. Valerina Daniel on sustainable tourism development in Indonesia ( photo courtesy: MVB documentation team ).

Ms. Valerina Daniel on sustainable tourism development in Indonesia (photo courtesy: MVB documentation team).

 

The next panelists were Mr. Ruedi Nuetzi from Swisscontact (a Switzerland NGO), Mr. AB Sadewa from Panorama Group (a company focuses on tourism and hospitality which, through Panorama Foundation, is involved in ongoing CSR program in Sembalun Lombok after it was struck by a massive earthquake back in 2018), Mr. Sean Nino from Eco Mantra (an environmental consulting company specialising in tourism industry), and Ms. Kertawidyawati from Hatten Wines (a Balinese winery with 100% locally grown vineyards). 

Eco Mantra was emphasising more into waste management this time, as proper recycling system is still a strange concept in Indonesia. 

Second session was opened by Mr. Didier Perez from PT PIPA (a water sustainability consulting company), Mr. Budi Santosa from The Nature Conservancy (an NGO in preserving nature conservancy), Mr. Agung and Mr. Yoga Iswara from Suksma Bali, Mr. Piet van Zyl from Positive Impact Forever, Ms. Vanessa Letizia from Greeneration Foundation (with its Eco Ranger program) and closed by Mr. Khairul Anwar from Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel, Yogyakarta. 

Mr. Khairul Anwar from Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel, he wore a complete set of Javanese traditional costume ( photo courtesy: MVB documentation team ).

Mr. Khairul Anwar from Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel, he wore a complete set of Javanese traditional costume (photo courtesy: MVB documentation team).

Suksma Bali is an independent movement, ignited by one of the stakeholders of Bali tourism and hospitality industry: Mr. Yoga Iswara, President Director of Global Hospitality expert (GHE). This movement lit up a poetic spirit among Balinese concerned citizens, to heal Bali from over-tourism impact and recover her original beauty through their several programs.

Mr. Yoga and his partner Mr. Agung began their presentation with an interesting quip. Mostly, he said, we heard “sustainability” or “eco friendly” word from big businesses as a mere lip-service to gain more profit, as people are starting to be more conscious about their consumption. Suksma Bali highlighted the importance to give back to the land and the locals, to engage in culture preservation, to yank ourselves out of our little bubble and start doing the right things instead of daydreaming about the future possibility. We need a  proper reinforcement, because regulations are virtually purposeless without it.

Now, Bali is being one of the most consistent Indonesian tourism area in eliminating single use plastic from its tourism and hospitality businesses. According to Mr. Yoga, around 90% of hotels in Bali already switched plastic bottled drinking water to reusable glass ones. 

 
Mr. Agung and Mr. Yoga from Suksma Bali ( photo courtesy: MVB documentation team ).

Mr. Agung and Mr. Yoga from Suksma Bali (photo courtesy: MVB documentation team).

 

Q&A forum was a bit shy and reserved at first, probably because the government representatives didn’t stay long enough to sit on the hot seats (kidding). Questions circulated around how the experts’ experience and how they ensure people would follow the created system/regulation. A lady asked a controversial question on why should she bother to separate her waste and clean her plastic waste if it would get mixed up again in the landfills. 

 
Q&A session, audience asking the panelists ( photo courtesy: MVB documentation team ).

Q&A session, audience asking the panelists (photo courtesy: MVB documentation team).

 

All questions reflected altogether in a general answer: it’s about mentality. If we don’t mind stagnant or deteriorating situation, we won’t move forward. Bigger scaled system might make it difficult for us to keep going but it doesn’t mean we have to stop. Your waste keep getting mixed up again? Talk to the area management (building management, RT, RW, waste picker trucks, you name it) and propose the system. Next step, reinforce the system by giving no other options to people. Separate your waste or they’ll be left at your door. At this time, being lenient shouldn’t be our first priority.

You’ve already separated your trash and feel frustrated when they somehow get mixed up again? Bring them to the waste banks. Indonesia has thousands of waste bank, some of them already launched some mobile apps. Your effort shouldn’t be thrown out just like that.

 
The panelists answering the questions ( photo courtesy: MVB documentation team ).

The panelists answering the questions (photo courtesy: MVB documentation team).

 

MVB Sustainable Tourism Seminar was a great and thought provoking event. We surely learnt something out of the experience.

-Written by Nurul Putri

MACRAME BAG WORKSHOP WITH WARUNG KEBUNKU

On Saturday, August 31st 2019, we were invited by Warung Kebunku to arrange a workshop at their market event: Pasar Langsat. It was being held at Warung Kebunku, Jalan Langsat III No. 22, South Jakarta, surrounded by lush trees and nearby a very nice park. Pasar Langsat was a food market joined by food artisans who brought fresh produces, organic rice, tempeh, goat milk cheese, healthy and delicious goods like traditional sweets made from all natural ingredients (we had some!). There was no shortage on drinks either, they served coconut milk drink, kombucha, few types of fruit wine and the others.

 
Several kind of traditional sweets:  kue ku  with sweetened mung bean paste, bi-color  talam  cake with  suji  leaves extract and brown sugar. Mini  serabi  (pancake from rice flour and coconut milk), and three beautiful  petulo  cake, they are meant to be eaten with coconut milk and brown sugar sauce. All natural and delicious.

Several kind of traditional sweets: kue ku with sweetened mung bean paste, bi-color talam cake with suji leaves extract and brown sugar. Mini serabi (pancake from rice flour and coconut milk), and three beautiful petulo cake, they are meant to be eaten with coconut milk and brown sugar sauce. All natural and delicious.

 

I Want to Smell The Perfume partook in arranging a jersey yarn macrame bag workshop. Seven people joined us, all lovely and enthusiastic. The youngest participant was Amanda, a middle school student who was also joining muffin baking workshop that day.

We spent three hours to learn the macrame bag making. We started around 9 am, to make the simple knots. It ended at 12 pm and the participants finished their bags until the handle making. Congratulations! We had a tasty lunch (mie ayam or noodles with sautéed chicken and mushrooms, and a glass of fresh strawberry juice).

 
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It was really fun! Thank you for participating! We’d like to thank Warung Kebunku as well for inviting us. We loved the Pasar Langsat and would be glad to visit the next ones.

-Written by Nurul Putri

LATEST COLLABORATION: YAYASAN ALANG-ALANG

Yayasan Alang-Alang is an Indonesian foundation which focuses in education sector especially for children. I admire their vision which reminds me of this nation’s first fundamental points: Pancasila ideology and religions. Religions reference here doesn’t only fixed on ritual aspects but goes further into daily life implementations i.e good manner in general.

We had brief conversation with the founder, Ibu Melati. She explained her basic life principle: good quality in general will generate a good result. This concept can be applied and started from simple things like washing the ingredients of our meals thoroughly before cooking and serving them, also using reusable eating utensils with decent quality as an investment because these utensils will last longer and won’t end up as trash too quickly.

Apart from it, they engage in active interaction with underprivileged locals, showing them the importance of education and health in constructing an ideal society. They have a program called KAIT-plus, focusing in the well-being of mothers and their children. All of their programs are free for underprivileged citizens, and they provide training sessions for the women (i.e: cooking class, hand-crafting class and the others).

 
Yayasan Alang-Alang’s women.

Yayasan Alang-Alang’s women.

 
 
First training day in Yayasan Alang-Alang, Ciawi, Bogor.

First training day in Yayasan Alang-Alang, Ciawi, Bogor.

 
 
Wilma (founder of I Want to Smell The Perfume), Ibu Yati (leader of Yayasan Alang-Alang’s women empowerment program), Ibu Estin (training participant).

Wilma (founder of I Want to Smell The Perfume), Ibu Yati (leader of Yayasan Alang-Alang’s women empowerment program), Ibu Estin (training participant).

 

I Want to Smell The Perfume created our MOC (Micro Organic Community) and held the initial training in Ciawi, Bogor on July the. 24th, 2019. First group was being joined by 10 women because it was concurred with Yayasan Alang-Alang’s own women training schedule.

After one month of intense training led by our charming founder Wilma, the women are ready to start the first production. They learned very fast and the result is amazing! Kudos to all of them!

 
Last training day in Yayasan Alang-Alang, Ciawi, Bogor.

Last training day in Yayasan Alang-Alang, Ciawi, Bogor.

 
 
 
These cute Melly Market Bags will be available to be purchased very soon!

These cute Melly Market Bags will be available to be purchased very soon!

 

Written by Priliscya Isdianti, translated by Nurul Putri.

Micro Organic Community Snippet: Bantar Gebang

Bantar Gebang is well-known (I don’t want to say infamous but there you go) as the biggest open landfill in Indonesia. Hundred of tons of waste are being carried and delivered in the seemingly never ending parade of trucks, every single day. Jakarta is singlehandedly burying the site with mixed concoction of household and municipal waste, nobody bothered to segregate their plastic bottles from some rotten cabbages and chicken bones. According to the local news, if you dig deep enough, you could probably find a scattered body remains of some unfortunate souls. Somebody did. And there are literally mountains of waste, you could actually hike them. This is to illustrate how enormous the waste problem in Bantar Gebang is.

Long story short, in all respect, it’s a peculiar place to live.

I Want to Smell The Perfume met our first micro organic community (MOC) women here through Ibu Resa Boenard from BGBJ community. It was quite hard to find women who’d want to join us. Most of them were already occupied by their domestic duties and day job in a very competitive waste picking field. Luckily we still found few women to create our first MOC there.

The initial five women are Ibu Lisa (she prefers to be called “Kak” instead, actually), Ibu Eha, Ibu Encum, Ibu Unyin and Ibu Panjul. For the record, those are all nicknames. Panjul is Ibu Panjul’s eldest son (also an endearment name), best friends with Ibu Encum’s son, Entung (guess what, a nickname as well).

They are a group of friendly and extremely lively women. We usually sit and do the training in front of Ibu Unyin’s house. My first impression in meeting them in fully assembled group was “They’re very chatty! And unbelievably resourceful,”. They were like the embodiment of local news flash, I think they might know every tale and top secrets around.

 
Ibu Eha and Ibu Encum continuing their works. Small children always want some extra attention :)

Ibu Eha and Ibu Encum continuing their works. Small children always want some extra attention :)

 

I went there with our intern Yanti, who was being so kind and compassionate in training the women. She taught them how to ensure the structure is well made and how to refine their finishing technique. When it comes to teaching the women, patience is the key.

 
Yanti taught Ibu Eha how to close the stitching.

Yanti taught Ibu Eha how to close the stitching.

 

Bantar Gebang’s women only have bank account for goverment benefits. They were reluctant to open the second bank account because the nearest bank is still too far from their living area. In the end we offered to transfer the salary by Alfamart (one of two biggest chain minimarkets in Indonesia), since they have one located quite close around them. However I was very, very surprised when found that the transfer charge was Rp. 15,000 per transaction! That’s three times a bank will charge us on transfer transaction via teller, for bank account located outside Jabodetabek!

It got us thinking, these payment methods should be an option for people who can’t afford to open their own bank accounts due to access limitation. Paying Rp. 15,000 for one transfer transaction will be a big deal for them. It’s already being a big deal for us as there are more than a couple of women who couldn’t find another way to receive the salary.

Is there any other alternatives when it comes to transferring the payment to these ladies? Please share with us if you know any!

 
Si Nakal / Naughty, a sweet docile cat (not living up to his name, I see), who likes to wander around and ask for food.

Si Nakal / Naughty, a sweet docile cat (not living up to his name, I see), who likes to wander around and ask for food.

 

After few months of intense training with our founder Wilma, the women are improving a lot! They are making our new SB (Shopping Basket) article in recycled cotton yarn. They will be available soon in our online stores and point of sales. Meanwhile, here is the teaser:

 
Beautiful bags made by Ibu Encum.

Beautiful bags made by Ibu Encum.

 

Written by Nurul Putri.

The Thriving Life of West Wangurer

West Wangurer is a part of Wangurer District in Bitung Island, located at the base of Gunung Bersaudara (“Mountain of The Brotherhood”). The pathways are quite sloping up and down, but it would be lovely to go around pedalling a bicycle on sunny days there. The sky is heartbreakingly clear.


We have a new Micro Organic Community (MOC) here after the initial training in The City Major’s official residence.

A street in West Wangurer.

A street in West Wangurer.

On the first day, we were surprised by a man who was enthusiastically tagging along and asked us to join the training. His name is Syahril Sono, born and raised in Wangurer. He was unaware that this training was reserved for women only. He seemed quite disappointed by the fact, but then he told us that he is a carpenter and we promptly had this idea to make crochet hooks from wood and bamboo. We planned to distribute the hooks to our MOC women, and we asked him to craft a sample for us.

Pak Syahril Sono was crafting a bamboo crochet hook.

We were having difficulties to source locally made wooden/bamboo crochet hooks and we were grateful to meet Pak Sono with his carving skills. We aim to encourage and support him to be our crochet hooks supplier. Pak Sono’s father also made some hooks for us, carved from coconut shells, coaxed with wax for the finishing touch.

Here are some pictures to wrap up warm memories of the second batch of fishing net bags training in West Wangurer:

Right to left: Yuli, a student, tried to pull and twist some yarn in crocheting, Ibu Aisya was also doing the same while her daughter enjoyed a bowl of biscuits.

Right to left: Yuli, a student, tried to pull and twist some yarn in crocheting, Ibu Aisya was also doing the same while her daughter enjoyed a bowl of biscuits.

 

Ibu Norma brought her grandson along to training session at Ibu RT’s house. She put the baby on a mesh hammock. She was rocking her grandchild on the hammock, trying to coo him into sleep.

In the afternoon, children went on full energy mode and sprinting around the front yards, people were having conversation while standing quite apart from each other, a small amount of shouting was ensued. This place was very much alive. Mothers was spending time with their smaller children at their front porch, including this one who taught her son how to count.

A mother was teaching her son how to count with his fingers.

A mother was teaching her son how to count with his fingers.

Written by Priliscya Isdianti.

The Children of Lembeh Island

Lembeh Island in Bitung City is an island sitting by the North East side of North Sulawesi. The citizens are mostly working as farmers and fishers. The first MOC (Micro Organic Community) we created was from North Lembeh. This area is quite far from South Lembeh (Rarandam Village) which has a docking port for transportation ships. North Lembeh’s locals would need to hop on road transportation modes like “oto” (car) and motorcycles to reach Bitung City. 

I had a funny experience when I went to accompany two women, Ibu Desi and Ibu Cicit, to open their own bank account in Bank Sulut, located in South side of Lembeh Island. At that time I wasn’t thinking about how big this island is, I thought “No problem, we could casually stroll around and go there,”. The problem started when we were waiting for our transportation. No cars, no “ojek”, then I decided to borrow one of their neighbour’s motorcycle. 

None of the women could ride motorcycles.

Now please try to picture me riding a motorcycle with two women on the pillion, turning right and left, climbing up and down like a mad racer. We passed 3 mountains in total, no kidding.

The women there are mostly working as small scaled fishers, every night they would spread the nets to catch small fishes and wait for big fishing ships to pass by and buy them for baits. When they appear, the women would turn their flashlights on and off to send the signal: “Hey, we have some baits here! Come and buy!”

We were arranging the training to make Anthea Bag every 13.00 PM in a keramba (a large fish cage) owned by PT BMB. 

Keramba owned by PT BMB, where the training was arranged.

Keramba owned by PT BMB, where the training was arranged.

Lembeh Island’s women learned how to cut the fishing nets.

Lembeh Island’s women learned how to cut the fishing nets.

Ibu Cicit and Ibu Winda were trying to make the crocheted handle of the bag.

Ibu Cicit and Ibu Winda were trying to make the crocheted handle of the bag.

The training was being held during the day, so the children were often came along with their mothers. Shiren and Natalie, the two little girls, were the regulars in PT BMB’s keramba.

Natalie and Shiren.

Natalie and Shiren.

In sunny days, some other children were coming to play and catch fishes with some critters.

Kids playing.

Kids playing.

A kid tried to catch a fish.

A kid tried to catch a fish.

The locals here have this unique trick to fish, they don’t use conventional fishing gears, instead they are using a mere nylon cord, with small hook and bait being tied to the end. If some fish takes the bait, they would simply roll the cord around their wrist and pull. I can’t imagine how painful it would be for me.

Although it was fairly hard to reach Lembeh Island (we had to use speedboat and crossing a channel), but it was a wonderful experience with its gorgeous view and the women, who have robust willpower to learn new things.

(Written by Priliscya Isdianti)