Many of us want to change the world. We want to help the environment so that future generations have a clean, safe, beautiful place to live. All of us have the power to do it. Most of us don't because we think too big. We look at the problem as a whole and become overwhelmed by all the possible solutions we see.
Where do I start? What do I do? I'm just one person, how can what I do change the world? It can be paralyzing to think on such a large scale.
But people who have changed the world know a secret. They know that it's the small, seemingly insignificant decisions we make as individuals every single day that, collectively, have the power to change the world. You choose to do something differently. You persuade friends and family, complete strangers, to join you. Driven by the desire to help the environment, they do. In taking just a few small steps, your collaborators inspire even more people to change the world.
Eventually, brands start to notice a change in demand and they either adapt to meet it or get replaced by new brands that do. Now that we think about it, small steps are really the only thing that ever have changed the world.
Melati and Isabel Wijsen were just 12 and 10 when a lesson at school about leaders like Nelson Mandela, Lady Diana, and Mahatma Gandhi inspired them to think about the steps they could take, right now, as children living in Bali, to change the world. Having experienced the ocean plastic crisis firsthand on their home island of Bali, the sisters founded Bye Bye Plastic Bags as a nonprofit organization with the goal of achieving an island-wide ban on single-use plastic bags.
The first step they took to help the environment was to start a petition in support of the ban on single-use plastics. They showed up at the Ngurah Rai International Airport as often as they could until they were given permission to ask passengers for their signatures. They collected about 10,000 signatures through their in-person campaign. They also set up an online petition and collected more than 77,000 digital signatures.
When they took their petition to the government, they didn't get the response they expected so they went on a hunger strike. It only lasted a day, but it made an impression. Melati and Isabel met Bali's then-governor, Mangku Pastika, to discuss the island's plastic problem. He signed a non-binding pledge to make Bali plastic-bag free by 2018. His successor, Governor Koster, signed the ban into law after his election in December 2018.
On June 23, 2019, the two brave girls were rewarded for their efforts to help the environment with small steps. That's the day Bali officially implemented its ban on single-use plastic bags as well as plastic straws and Styrofoam. Now, the sisters are launching new projects to spread awareness about the ocean plastic crisis and encourage young people around the world to take action on behalf of the ocean.
The Wijsen sisters' story of monumental change started with just a few small steps — and theirs isn't the only one. Young activists all over the world are now stepping up and making positive change happen. Here are five more inspiring examples of small steps that have changed the world.
Alex Schulze and Andrew Cooper, Florida natives and the founders of 4ocean, were similarly inspired to act after taking a surfing trip to Bali. They were horrified to discover a beach completely covered in plastic. When told by a local that the beaches had been cleaned just hours earlier, Schulze and Cooper knew they had to act.
When they arrived back home, both of them started cleaning local areas of the ocean and coastlines by themselves. Then, they took another step — they built a business that would allow them to fund ocean cleanups on a global scale, pay workers and fishermen to clean single-use plastics from the ocean, and launch educational and awareness campaigns to get more people involved in the clean ocean movement.
Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, with cleanup divisions in Bali, Haiti, and Guatemala, 4ocean is a for-profit company dedicated to ending the plastic ocean crisis. Every product purchased funds the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines. When you buy 4ocean products, you're also helping to fund a variety of environmental charities, empowering the women and men who make our bracelets from sustainable materials, and supporting initiatives that educate others about the ocean plastic crisis.
Remember, small acts add up. Sign up for a 4ocean bracelet subscription and become part of the clean ocean movement today.
Founded in 1996 by Dr. Amanda Vincent and Dr. Heather Koldewey, Project Seahorse aims to secure a world where marine ecosystems are healthy and well-managed. Their focus on saving seahorses, securing the world's shallow seas, and training conservationists to continue this important work is what they're all about. Check out some more of the great work they are doing inside.