In Indonesia, hundreds of volunteers clean rivers of garbage

30 November 2023
A video of volunteers clearing huge amounts of garbage from rivers in Indonesia has received a million views online. It's amazing what people can do when they work as a team!

The Indonesian charity Sungai Watch published a time-lapse video of volunteers clearing local rivers of huge amounts of garbage. One minute of the video contained five cleanups on the island of Java and the island of Bali, which took a total of 14 hours. During this time, we managed to remove 7.6 tons of garbage. The video attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of users and quickly spread across the Internet.

Sungai Watch charity co-founder Kelly Benchegib runs the venture with his brother and sister. They are originally from France but moved to Bali 18 years ago. Their team of 110 members runs weekly river clean-ups every Friday afternoon and attracts hundreds of new volunteers. Nobody asks them to clean up the garbage - they themselves find the most contaminated areas and work together to clean them up.

According to managers, the most common items they find during cleanups are single-use plastic food and drink containers and bags. But there are also unpleasant rarities:

"However, we often come across a wide variety of items, including unexpected ones such as handbags, musical instruments, identification cards, mattresses, toilets and even televisions. The variety is simply amazing. We also find a large number of dead animals: pigs, dogs, chickens, snakes and others, which makes working conditions more difficult,” says Kelly Benchegib.

According to the founders, the company's mission is to protect and restore the world's rivers and stop plastic pollution that is harming the oceans. In addition to collecting waste, the team identifies the types of waste and types of plastic that cause the greatest harm to the environment and their origin. After collection, the waste enters one of the company’s sorting complexes, where it is sorted into more than 30 categories.
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