ecoTalk: Bu Gung Kirana



Meet the woman who has been tasked to help spread the word on waste banks in Badung region. 

Mrs. Gusti Ayu Putu Srisurasti, or more well known as Bu Gung Kirana, is tireless. Every morning she travels from her home at Carangsari, Petang—halfway to the north of Bali—to her office at Badung Environmental Agency (DLHK Badung) in Mengwi, then comes back home at 2pm to attend to her teenage son so she can go back out again later at night to socialize waste bank in every banjar (village council) in the Badung region.

“From five hundred forty six banjar in Badung, we have done two hundred and thirty two in five months’ time,” says the mother of three. “We even do it on the weekends. But I love my job, because my background has dealt with the women-led organization called PKK (Pendidikan Kesejahteraan Keluarga, or Family Welfare Education), so I’m happy to be able to come back and interact with the women of PKK during the socialization.”

It’s a government-mandated job as Badung aims to create a zero waste region as exemplified by the Badung Regency Regulation no. 48, year 2018 on the implementation of the 3R principle through the formation of waste bank. It wouldn’t be easy convincing adults to change their habits, but Bu Gung is up to the task. We meet the fast-talking ecowarrior to talk about the government action to combat the waste issue on the island, and her own personal take on it.

So what are your roles in Badung Environmental Agency?

I am a staff of division 2 that is responsible for management of poisonous and hazardous waste, but last year I was assigned as socialization officer for waste bank because of my background since 1993 in PKK. (PKK is a community-led organization that empowers women around Indonesia to get actively involved in improving the living quality of their village.) The waste bank socialization is indeed targeted to these members of PKK because traditionally in their roles as housewives they produce the most waste as they go to the market and prepare food at home.

Tell us about the socialization progress so far?

It’s been great! From 546 banjar we have done the socialization in 232 banjar since we began five months ago. We have been assigned a specific target by DLHK to manage 55, 6 tons of waste per day from the 280 tons of waste that the Badung region produce and we will achieve that target from our programs such as GOTIK (gojek sampah plastik) and waste banks. But to be clear, for the latter we are simply facilitating and providing the knowledge and training for these waste banks because the day-to-day operational will be conducted by the community themselves. So you can say we are empowering these women as they will have an extra source of income to support their family.

How does it work, really?

There are more than 20 types of waste that the members can sell—from plastic to used beverage carton (which we collaborate with ecoBali) to buckets to motorcycle spark plugs to broken refrigerator, which they can call us to pick up if they can’t bring it to the banjar meeting hall themselves—and they will gather the separated waste in the banjar to be weighed and collected by us to be brought to our central waste bank, Bank Sampah Mangu Srikandi.

It seems Badung region seems to be very serious in managing the waste issue?

Oh yes, we’re definitely taking it very seriously. Even the staff office are obligated to save their waste in our office’s waste bank, and not just in banjar, but I’ve even done socialization to inmates at Kerobokan jail, which I counted as one of my proudest moments as it gives the inmates a meaningful activity to participate in and it’ll keep their environment clean and healthy.  And as of March, we are ensuring that every shopping center in Badung region is free from plastic bags. Now we encourage residents to compost their biodegradable waste at home, sell their recyclables to a waste bank, and only the residue will then be taken to landfill.

Photo: srisurastikirana

How about traditional market?

Now that’s going to take time and we’re going to socialize it in phases. However we have been targeting the consumers, telling them that they don’t need plastic bags and advising them to use reusable bags instead. That’s why we’ve been giving away reusable bags in public places.

What zero waste action have you done at home?

For organic waste, I dispose it to the plants in my backyard (teba). And as for the non-organic waste I bring it to my office’s waste bank.

Why do you think there’s a sort of void in terms of awareness of responsible waste management amongst the people?

I think it just comes down to people not being aware of the value of the waste that they produce. They think of it something that is disgusting and unhealthy, and it doesn’t have to be if we separate our waste and keep our environment clean from waste. We can’t keep calling our island Paradise Island if we keep letting waste pollutes our environment. The most important thing to remember as well is that managing waste shouldn’t just be the responsibility of the government but it requires all elements of society to take action.

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