One Cool Project I’ve Worked On: Marapi is Crying for Trash Bags







Sometimes I ask myself how big my contribution to my community and I realize that it is not about a big thing but it is about how to make it happen and how to make it sustainable and impactful. As a part of young generations, I always think to do something beyond my comfort zone. I might be too active in academic life and organization aspect plus youth empowerment programs but I feel like it’s not enough as I want to do something more. The temptation to contribute to the community always becomes a strong reason for me to maximize myself through social-humanities activities.

Two years ago I got a scholarship for a leadership professional training called XL Future Leaders Global Thinking Program which initiated by one of the big telecommunication companies in Indonesia namely PT. XL Axiata. I have been selected from more than 12.000 applicants around Indonesia in November 2014. Meaning that I was one of the luckiest kids across Indonesia to receive an award-winning youth development program predicate presented by PT. XL Axiata.

This international best practice program gave me an opportunity in critical and creative thinking, self-managed inquiry-based learning, and leadership for 21st-century opportunities. In completing this intensive program, I have demonstrated achievement across multiple authentic contexts in following core competencies which are effective communications; managing change; entrepreneurship and innovation. The implication of this program led me to achieve my vision to give an impact on my community. Then,  I came up with a super-cool project called “Asoy Gadang Marapi” 

I live in a small village located in West Sumatra Province of Indonesia which my home is in between two gorgeous mountains which I love to climb. But sadly every time I climb one of the mountains namely Marapi volcano, there is a lot of trash on the way up the summit. They are plenty of visitors every year or even every day to climb this awesome volcano, especially it’s getting crowded in the peak season such as the 17th of August (Independence Day of Indonesia), New Year Eve, or even in the long weekend of National Holiday. The number of climbers always increased since the track to get to the summit is easy to deal with, plenty of people come, plenty of trash left. The big amount of trash can be found everywhere that made the way up to the top is really dirty plus so smelly. This situation directly led to a major problem besides the vandalism.

This volcano consists of 8 posts until we reach the top of a mountain. In every single post, the climbers can take some rest in between posts. In the main entrance, there is a primary post which organized by locals. Before the climbers start their journey, they have to report their identity to the primary post by filling out the visitors’ book and pay a contribution as an insurance just in case there is something emergency happening on the summit, the staff will take actions. The recent number of climbers are up to 4,000 people (re: it has been written into visitors book by long holiday – 4th until 7th of May 2016). This big number made this volcano was like the traditional market because of full of tending and people on the top.

The highest number of these climbers had created a big problem of trash since most of the climbers are coming from another provinces or even foreigners from other countries and they left plenty of trash every where. To handle this problem, Marapi staff pays the cleaning service to clean up the trash once a month. But most of the time,  after the cleaning, the next day the trash is coming again and over again and will always make the same loop. Even though there is a climbing community of West Sumatra who will to clean up the mess along the way up to the volcano, but this action is still one voluntary based and not really sustainable. One more big problem is there is no trash bin or even trash bag in every single post to collect and to organize the trash. This situation gave a contribution to dis-organized trash management.

Well, people do talk a lot about environmental issues especially trash but it seems like they do not even do something to solve it. This is so sad to see the reality of careless people who do not put any attention on the environmental issue. Based on this emergency situation, I and my friend came up with a “COLLABORATIVE PROJECT IN COLLECTING TRASH” to deal with this problem. We initiated a sustainable eco-tourism series campaign in Marapi volcanic mountain of West Sumatra, Indonesia. Why this project matter? and why the target is volcano? and why it should be Marapi volcanic mountain?

Here is the fact, abundant people come and leave their trash because they are not well informed on its impact to the environment and tend to throw everything in random places. This problem escalated because there are no trash bins or trash bags on the way up to the volcano. This volcano supposed to be an awesome place for people who love climbing and trekking but sadly garbage made this place is no longer standing as a beautiful spot anymore. Seeing this phenomenon, as a local kid I thought I should do something as one of my moral responsibilities to start to demonstrate the real value of clean climbers to respect the environment. The background of this action is really clear to solve the essential problem of trash in the volcano. I and my friend collaborated with local staff who are organizing the climbers as well as I started to invite the climbing community in the West Sumatra Province to start the project together.

This collaboration was so challenging for me because I tried to maximize the potential of all stakeholders to contribute in solving this trash problem together so then we can share our great ideas from a different point of view. The name of our collaborative project is AGAM which known as Asoy Gadang Marapi or The Big Trash Bag of Marapi  in English. This project aims to solve the essential problem of trash together by providing trash bin every where and providing trash bags for the climbers so they can take care of their own trash.

The project is not only the responsibility of climbing community or even local people to clean up the trash. But what we need to promote is about climber’s responsibility and we will try to demonstrate the real value of doing this project is not limited to cleaning service only. Meaning that the objective of this project is pretty clear to encourage the awareness of every single climber to take responsibility for their own trash. Value proposition of this project is also clear in order to strengthen the partnership between locals, existing community service as well as the climbers. By approaching local champions and reviewing the project plans using community projects plus branding this project through the digital campaign/communication tools, we can make this project sustainable.

So, the implementation of this project is pretty simple. Once the climbers register themselves to go up to the mountain, we give them the trash bag to carry for their waste. When they go back, the local people who organize the mountain shall check the trash bag to make sure they don’t leave any trash up of the volcano. Strong campaign of this project also supported by additional rule which is by applying a “FINE” when the climbers don’t bring their trash back ( Rp. 5000,- per trash). We will use the money to provide the recycle center and pay some facilities to take care of the waste.

By initiating AGAM we have already reduced the number of trash and made some innovations which are first, became the first collaborative social project which focused on the volcano in Sumatra Island since most of the previous projects were initiated by one group only without any collaboration with other community.

Second, AGAM project became the first sustainable project in West Sumatra province which involving the role of local people because before this project happened, the previous cleaning project was just like one-shot event and it was not sustainable which means after a certain community cleaned the trash then the climbers or visitors will throw the trash again and it will be repeated again and over again without any significant changed while our project is consistent to monitor the climbers to not throw their trash randomly by providing them trash bag in the main entrance before they climb as well as demonstrating our campaign.

Third, the prohibition of burning trash. Before this project happened the staff used to burn trash to eliminate it quickly, but since the project started in June 2016, they stopped burning trash. This project until today by providing trash bins in every single post as well as giving trash bags to the climbers in order to take care of their own trash during their climb and after that we collect the trash and we recycle them since June.

Fourth, the most important innovation is providing the GPS which we will be installed it immediately in the maps to locate trash bins.  We already had a collaboration with one of the telecommunication companies to provide a strong signal until the top of the volcano so the climbers are able to access the GPS and this innovation is still in the process to be launched immediately. We also demonstrate this action through social media campaigns. Go visit our facebook fanpage

I acknowledge that this project is really in line with the concept of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) which is one of them is focus on climate action that clearly stated on point number 13. In order to implement this international program, that is why we are inviting people to contribute since we believe everyone can contribute even for a small piece of contribution. We just need small action from a lot of people which can give a direct impact on environment continuously. This value makes our project is different and really outstanding comparing to some existing environmental projects. 

Three key components of sustainability which are Environment – maintaining the earth’s life support system through this AGAM project; Social – maintaining community or civic capacity that fosters effective participation and equitable treatment of all stakeholders which is in this project we collaborate together to solve the trash problem; Economic – maintaining an economic system that provides a non declining standard of living fro this and future generations which is in this project we tried to change the value of trash to be something else by recycling them then we use that money to buy more trash bag and trash bin to support this project,

I realized that to make this project happen and sustainable are not easy for sure. I faced some obstacles especially the coordination among stakeholders I collaborated with. But that was the challenge to optimize the capacity to be able working together. Beside that, the real challenge was to be consistent to run the project continuously. I learned a lot from this project and I was so lucky that this project made me appreciating the process. I believe without group work and strong teamwork, I would never accomplished anything here.  

“Everyone can contribute!

Plenty of Climbers.
1 Vision.

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