Gede Robi, environmentalist and singer of Bali rock band Navicula sorts plastic waste he finds on the side of the road in Gianyar, Bali. (Photo courtesy of Asa Film)

Bali's 'Green Grunge Gentlemen' Navicula to Star in Anti-Plastic Video Campaign


JULY 10, 2018

Ubud, Bali/Jakarta. After a music video and an Australian tour, Bali's social and environmental non-profit Kopernik and rock band Navicula, also known in activist circles as the "Green Grunge Gentlemen," have continued their partnership to launch a series of educational videos called "Pulau Plastik," or "Plastic Island," to raise awareness on severe plastic pollution on the popular tourist island.

Indonesia's plastic problem has been worsening in the past few years. In 2015, Indonesia was named the second biggest contributor of plastic waste into the world's oceans after China in a report by Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia.

Last year, Coordinating Maritime Affairs minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the Indonesian government had pledged $1 billion annually to clean its seas from plastic debris and eyed to cut 70 percent of it by 2025.

Bali, still the busiest tourist spot in the country, generates over 3,500 tons of plastic waste per day.

Earlier this year, British diver Rich Horner posted on social media a video of himself swimming in open seas filled with plastic waste at Manta Point, off the coast of Bali’s Nusa Penida island.

The video went viral and attracted heavy criticism for the government from environmentalists all over the world.

"The plastic problem is not new. But conversation around it has been mostly limited to people from NGOs, the government or activists," said environmental activist and Navicula singer Gede Robi last week.

Pulau Plastik was produced to make that discussion less exclusive and encourage Balinese to use less plastic.

Apart from Navicula, Kopernik has also partnered with documentary filmmakers Dandhy Laksono from Watchdoc and Shinta Retnani from Asa Film for this project.

Kopernik hopes a video series will help the discussion on reducing plastic consumption and pollution reach new, younger audiences.

The series is targeted at the general public and especially community leaders, such as activists, artists, university students, youth community leaders and village elders.

"We want to do something that can really change the way people think about the issue, to change their behavior. We offer solutions and very clear calls to action – very practical tips on reducing plastic waste," said Ewa Wojkowska, chief operating officer and co-founder of Kopernik.

The main challenge when making the video series was in finding ways to deliver cold hard facts in an entertaining way.

"How can we remain idealistic but at the same time entertain people, so the discussion can go mainstream? A lot of stuff we see before this is either too commercial or too idealistic. We need to find a balance," Robi said.

Pulau Plastik ends up being an eight-episode travel diary starring Robi as the host. He travels around the country to learn about Indonesia's plastic waste problem from academics, government officials and community leaders.

"There's something new to learn in each episode," said Robi, whose previous experience as a TV host was in "Viva Barista," a reality show about Indonesian coffee.

Robi said Pulau Plastik’s pilot episode will feature Inneke Hantoro from Soegijapranata Catholic University in Semarang, Central Java, an expert on microplastics – plastic materials less than 5 millimeters in length that scientists have now recognized are hazardous to human health.

Robi said the video series will also discuss "cultural approaches" to reduce plastic waste since in Bali communities are governed as much by traditions as by formal laws.

"Bali has always had this philosophy of "Tri Hita Karana" – that development should be based on a harmonious relationship between human beings, nature and spirituality. It's part of our spiritual teachings as Balinese, but has largely remained a jargon only. Perhaps Pulau Plastik can help us implement it," Robi said.

The rockstar hopes Bali's traditional laws will eventually recognize plastic waste as something to be regulated on the island.

Pulau Plastik will make its debut during Bali's TrashStock Festival 2018 on Aug. 5, with a special screening of an official trailer and behind-the-scene footages from the series.

The launch date for the complete series will be announced soon. It will be made available on YouTube and on an as yet unspecified local television channel.