Protecting our environment – and fighting poverty
Back to Ika Somawati and her daily work. At midday – it is now 32 degrees – Ika heads home with the plastic bottles and other waste she has collected. She sorts the materials, separating clear and coloured plastics and removing the coloured lids. The job is rhythmic and relaxing, she says; while she works, she chats with her mother-in-law, and her 4-year-old son has fun with the different colours as he makes piles of red and blue caps.
Finally, Ika takes the sorted plastic to the Plastic Bank collection point. There, she greets the other collectors and talks to them about work, family, and when the tourists are likely to start coming back to Bali. The collection point weighs what Ika has collected and pays her premiums for her plastic. She also receives points and credits that give her family access to basic needs such as school fees, health insurance, internet access, and gas for cooking.
At 3 pm, Ika says goodbye to her colleagues and picks her children up from school. On the way home she stops at the supermarket to buy some groceries. She makes payment using the tokens she received for collecting plastic. In the evening, around 6 pm, her home is bathed in the gold-purple light of the sunset and her husband returns from work exhausted. The family gathers for dinner and talks about the events of the day – and about collecting plastic. Ika’s work has changed her opinion about waste. Now, when she looks at the beach, she is thankful that she can make a contribution to protecting the ocean: ‘With the daily collecting and sorting, I see an opportunity for me and for all other people to take the first step out of the cycle of poverty.’