The Blue Dance: Humans Have Two Left Feet

Isabel Wijsen (middle), co-founder of Bye Bye Plastic Bags, goes on the streets of Bali to raise awareness on plastic pollution.I recently read the inspiring story of Melati Wijsen, a teen from Bali who has been the leader for Bali’s Bye Bye Plastic  initiative since 2013 when she was just 12 years old.  That’s Melati in the middle, in the picture. I was struck by her comment, “Dancing with politicians — it’s three steps forward, two steps back, and then again and again. But I understand that we need to be doing it together.”

Anyone who has been motivated to be a change maker for the Ocean against plastic pollution has done that dance. It’s the same dance we do when working to change habits even among friends and family. We are used to living the “plastic” life full of single use items, the idea that trash goes “away” and that we “need” to have certain items. We are feeding the demand by our choices. It’s time to dance together.

When I started teaching in 1970, I am not sure I was ready to appreciate the optimism, commitment, passion and voice that a group of 7th grade students could share when informed of a problem and invited to brainstorm how to make a difference. My first group of students who worked hard to save burrowing owls from a construction site, pitch for a city to invest in a recycling plant (not the usual of in those days), and fill the classroom with more questions than I could answer, inspired me. From them my “teaching” journey became more of a “learning, door-opening adventure.”

The next generation of ocean stewards are already making a difference. I created the Blue Life Journal for Kids and the accompanying Teacher Materials (no charge for the digital version) for those very young people. Whether they are inspired to be “green” on the land or have made the leap to “blue” for the ocean – it’s all connected.

Like any initiative that asks for habit change, we are going to find ourselves in the “blue dance” taking one step forward and two steps back. At other times – we waltz easily through a project and create enormous change. Either way, we need to dance together.

My hope is that you share our blog and our programs with like-minded others. Just put the link on your social media. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. E-mail us your stories and questions. Let’s dance!

Enjoy this video about Bali’s fight against plastic (

This is how Bali is fighting plastic pollution from CNBC.

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