Anik used what she had learned to craft a story that would matter to this community. After playing a popular ocean plastic video, she showed pictures of their river drowning in trash and their children playing barefoot atop trash-strewn beaches. She asked, “Is this the future you want to give your children?”
In response, Pak Kawi’s voice grew loud: “We need to deal with this.” The gathering was angry and ready.
Anik then explained how a waste system worked, highlighting the difference between organic and non-organic waste, the importance of sorting waste, and the cost of collection services. As is often the case, the audience was ready to engage in the task until money was mentioned. This caused them to throw up their arms, hiss and raise their voices, and complain that it was the government—not them—who should pay.
Calmly using a Madurese phrase, “bedhe pakon, bedhe pakan” (roughly, “If you ask someone to do something for you, you must pay for their sweat”), Anik described the effort required in thoroughly collecting garbage. Her audience nodded in understanding. No one liked to do work without being paid.
Only then did she explain that the government would also be financing the community’s waste service. Collection fees would need to be much higher if the government did not do so. She then outlined two pricing schemes—Rp20,000/month ($1.40) for daily collection or Rp10,000 ($0.70) for every other day. What had started as a fight about paying versus not paying was now a debate about the level of service to activate.
Next, the idea of outsiders being employed by the village’s waste centre to collect the community’s trash was protested. There was a strong feeling that jobs needed to be given to their community members. In addition, it was important that people trusted who was walking their streets, taking their trash. Anik knew that separate collection workers for each neighbourhood were not only inefficient, but there was little recourse if one became sick or decided to spend the day fishing, Even so, she understood how important it was to take their concerns seriously and agreed to try their approach.
But when the community’s chosen collectors tired of the job and quit after a few months, the formal collection workers from outside were embraced.
Transition costs are high for residents who have never known waste management. New habits have to be formed and money has to be budgeted for a service that already has a cost-free (though harmful) alternative. But after the urgency of change is established, trust can be built by initially implementing a community’s wishes in low-risk situations. If they are right, something valuable is learned. If not, there is an appreciation for the effort made.
Project STOP is particularly strong in these kinds of relationship and influencing techniques. To see how other organisations use such strategies – as well as seven other influencing models – read Leave No Trace: Vital Lessons from the Frontline of Waste and Ocean Plastic.
The Alliance is proud to be partnering with Project Stop on its third program to design and deploy a system to collect waste, enable recycling, create jobs, clean up areas and improving the lives of communities in Jembrana, Northwest Bali. For more, visit endplasticwaste.org/projects