An Overview Of Our Solution
Debris Free Friday (DFF) is a simple yet effective movement aimed to create a community effort to keep the beaches on Gili Trawangan clean, whilst educating and socialising about responsible waste management and plastic consumption. We invite everyone on the island every Friday at 5 pm to clean the beach.
Established in 2013, whilst the dive industry has a break for Muslim Friday prayer, it has become an iconic and easily replicable event.
The beach clean starts with a 10minute briefing (Trash Talk) on why we clean the beach each week, what type of marine debris we expect to find in each location, how to sort and separate the rubbish and most importantly WHY.
Consistency is key, we rarely miss a Friday, showing our commitment and also creating habitual behavioural changes. It is one of the only weekly regular social events on the island.
- Population Impacted 5,000 - 1,000,000
- Continent: Asia
Indonesia is the second-largest contributor to marine pollution with up to 1.3million tons discarded in the ocean per year due to waste mismanagement.
We operate on a small island in Indonesia with a population of 1,000 residents and up to 5,000 tourists in high season. In 2016, 1million visitors arrived in the Gili islands alone.
Gili Trawangan is 7.2km in diameter, so small, that our aim to be a leading zero-waste island specializing in eco-tourism initiatives is well achievable. Over the past 20 years, dive, boutique and party tourism have exploded and the aquatic and land environment has seen huge degradation. All food, drinks and construction materials are imported, bringing with it infinite amounts of plastic waste. Education levels are low and waste management strategies are not funded by the village government.
Not only is it a major threat to the environment, but also to tourism, the only economy that Gili Trawangan has.
Describe the technical solution you wanted the target audience to adopt
Our technical solution is ensuring that island rubbish doesn't enter the ocean and that ocean debris is removed as quickly as possible. Many beach clean organizations carry out similar projects all over the world. What we focus further on, is what happens to the rubbish when it is off the beaches.
We find it imperative to educate and show transparency to those helping to clean about the 'afterlife' of their litter impact and beach debris. Once it's off the beach, the process isn't complete. We take them on a journey through the methods of sorting and recycling the waste even before it has left the beach, along with offering easy alternatives and solutions for all common debris found. This isn't just good standards for their holiday or activities on the beach, but it is knowledge to take away with them home or to their next destination to ensure they can adopt more sustainable living standards from now on. Gili businesses are now adopting the same waste sorting techniques.
Describe your behavioral intervention.
The quote 'action speaks louder than words' plays a huge role in Debris Free Friday. We have visuals on the briefing showing the types of rubbish we expect to find before we find it. With a 10 minute introduction of what we expect to collect, we explain how damaging each particular debris is on the marine environment, whilst most importantly offering sustainable (and accessible) alternatives to each. This is done in a friendly & positive approach, as we don't believe naming & shaming is the answer to long-term change.
Some volunteers opt to take an old plastic water bottle coined 'The Butt Bottle' These volunteers collect cigarette butts from the beach. Knowing that 1.5L bottle is approx 1,000 butts. Since 2014 we've quantified how many butts collected to show shocking statistics and a great visual incentive which we now see adopted all over the world. It has also been the turning point of a number of volunteers (including myself!) to quit smoking. After smoking for 11 years, we collected more than 50,000 butts in the first year of our DFF initiative, I knew this habit couldn't be justified anymore.
Volunteers have been motivated to purchase a reusable bottle after they've been shocked by the number of plastic bottles they've collected/had to use whilst travelling.
The intervention is fun, informal and motivating, proving an individual's tiny differences can make huge impacts in numbers.
Behavioral Levers Utilized
As needed, please explain how you utilized the lever(s) in more detail.
Choice Architecture: Using only motivational, positive & encouraging words to inspire and empower beach cleaners to make better choices independently
Emotional Appeals: Gili T is famous for turtles & diving so regularly sharing cause and effect of smoking/plastic bottles/using straws in coastal areas create huge impacts
Information: We adhere to educate not judge. We inform every beach cleaner how to make easy habits in their lives to reduce plastic use through briefings/infographics/signage & social media
Material Incentives: Offering a free beer/soda/doughnut to volunteers is a great incentive for volunteers to come, learn, socialize and take action.
Social Influences: By sharing cleanup images on our socials, we've created huge momentum showing people that it's 'cool' and admirable to pick up trash and the accepted norm every time you go to the beach. This aids deconstruction of the taboo in Indonesian belief that only the underprivileged deal with waste.
Describe your implementation
Our solution addresses the need for education, socialisation, community empowerment and action needed to rid the oceans of pollution. Beach pollution frequently receives the ‘it’s someone else’s problem’ mentality. DFF combats this by sharing efforts, knowledge and workforce amongst the community to assist cleaning on every beach showing its safe, fun and trendy to litter pick.
Reward systems, consistency of events, promoting the events on social platforms, hostels, dive shops and word of mouth ensure the solution remains effective. The briefings and Q&A on the beach are a great way to promote behavioural changes especially in those relatively new to the plastic problem and awareness.
Watching more than 40 businesses offer to sign up to become DFF sponsors after starting with 2 sponsors was a huge success. Remote and guest sponsors have appeared as well to help promote, fund and support the DFF events. We have a strong media presence amongst the global clean up community.
DFF would be costly purchasing 60-100 beers per week, by accepting business sponsors of free refreshments in exchange for promotional content, shout outs which offer profitable green values, we can keep costs to a minimum and carry out regular clean-ups with financial security for our tiny organization.
Media and marketing within local communities are different to the tourism strategies which made it hard to promote in the beginning. After we started eco-lessons in the local school, the Gili youth made their own club who help to inspire local children to join the cleanups.
We hold regular seminars with dive instructors and business staff and managers to teach them about waste management, sustainability and the cleanups. In turn, they can share this info with guests & customers creating better outreach to individuals who may not have heard of the DFF event.
Describe the leadership for your solution. Who is leading the implementation?
Gili Eco Trust NGO holds leadership simply due to the close connections with stakeholders, island authorities and a communications structure on the island. We encourage the local community to join in with the tourists of the island for a collaborative effort and our local manager has gained confidence in explaining the Trash Talk (briefing) in English and Bahasa Indonesian.
Our Eco-Warriors (volunteers & interns) get trained to also become DFF leaders, learning the Trash Talk and logistics of how to execute these movements for future locations.
As consistency is key for this solution to succeed, it is important to have committed long term residents and individuals as leaders.
In the past, we've worked with the local Montessori school and the children have planned and executed the whole event and invited the local junior school to join in their efforts.
Share some of the key partners or stakeholders engaged in your solution development and implementation.
This is the only regular event that connects all business sectors - dive shops, resorts, schools and beach activities on Gili T for positive actions & green reputation.
This collaboration of stakeholders has proven key for the success of more than 400 large scale clean ups in 7 years.
The Mosque will put out regular calls to action to help initiate local volunteers and local media stations, radio and even Miss Indonesia and other influencers have joined DFF to share and hopefully replicate the movement.
Friday is a sacred day of Muslim jum'ah prayer, making it a special day on Gili T. Along with Western values of Friday's end of work week mentality, it is a perfectly rounded get-together that encompasses many traditions, cultures and beliefs with the aim of sustainable tourism in mind even though the island is getting a reputation for partying.
Who adopted the desired behavior(s) and to what degree? Include an explanation of how you measured a change in behavior.
Tourists: Adopting refillable bottles and verbal changes saying NO to single-use plastics. Installing and using Butt Bins on the beaches dramatically decreased the butt pollution.
Fast boat companies: Adopted 'Eco' briefings to educate tourists before they arrived on the island.
Hotels/Resorts/Dive shops: Print our infographics of 'Top 10 Eco Tourist Tips', Implementation of more than 100 water refill stations across Gili T. Many have also stopped single-use plastics and following our Business Green Guide to implement better practices.
Local community: Recognising financial gain in refills stations encouraged the implementation in more than 25 warungs
New Gili_fam movement with the local youth taking it into their own hands, cleaning every Thursday and adopting our waste separation & education strategy.
Businesses now adhere to greener products and strategies in their daily practices understanding the value for their customers and profits.
How did you impact water pollution? Please be specific and include measurement methodology where relevant.
We are drastically reducing plastics in the oceans and on the beaches locally by recovery, recycling, educating and encouraging alternative solutions between multiple business and social sectors.
We collected and weighed:
2017 - 7489.5kg
2018 - 9584kg
2019 - 9160kg
2020 - 5182kg (with Covid and no tourism from March onwards)
Cigarette butts exceed 10,000 pieces at almost every beach clean in touristic spots. (One bottle = approx 1,000 butt)
Whilst we have data starting from 2014, in 2017 we built a recycling centre and can now (2019-2020 data) sort and recycle up to 60% of beach waste. This is cleaned in 48-54 hours per year.
We understand that waste management in mainland Lombok is severely lacking. Whilst our numbers and apparent success grows, we believe this is also accounted to the dramatic increase of volunteers from 15-25pax in 2016 to 50-60pax by 2018; Along with increased production and availability of single-use plastic products in Lombok.
How has your solution impacted equity challenges (including race, gender, ethnicity, social class/income, or others)?
The best thing about Debris Free Friday is it is free to join and excludes no one.
We've had volunteers from
- Locals living on Gili Trawangan who are predominantly Muslim
- Children of the local SD school (primary school in Indonesia)
- Elderly visitors
- Staff that work on the island
As we live on a Muslim island, our practising friends and children are offered a free soda (always canned rather than a plastic bottle) and others can have a free beer if they wish. The beach clean briefing also includes a huge colour-coordinated banner with images of beach debris for those lacking in English or Bahasa Indonesia language, so it is easy for everyone to understand.
The lack of prejudice against cultures, languages and religion is an amazing way to show that we can all work together to keep the island clean and gives confidence in culture integration in an informal and fun atmosphere.
What were some social and/or community co-benefits?
-Acts as a social collaborative event each week with dive community, hospitality and locals gathering.
-Meet likeminded people and learn how a collaborative effort for the island will help encourage future tourism and improve the economy.
-Kids join in from the beach
-Landowners see the value in cleaner beaches and cafe fronts, they become responsible stewards of their land.
-Businesses inspired to add more bins on the beach front
-Green promotion for businesses
What were some environmental co-benefits?
Cleaners oceans have benefitted divers and biodiversity
Healthy competition has helped to initiate sustainable business campaigns swiftly and effectively (prohibition of plastic straws, refill stations, green welcome packs etc)
Preparedness for emergency cleanup drills such as May 2020. In 2 days we collected 1.5tons of plastic with the remaining community after an island lockdown.
What were some sustainable development co-benefits?
Businesses that sign up to a DFF get a 'good practise' guide and agreement to sign before.
Making sure that they:
- don't use plastic Straws
- don't sell bottled water
- Have a drinking water refill station on site
- Sign up to responsible waste management with the FMPL (local waste collection entity).
We guide them through the above objectives along with different levels of a 'Green Guide' to gain a local Badge similar to a TripAdvisor rating
Sustainability: Describe the economic sustainability of your solution.
Debris Free Friday is one of the most sustainable movements that the Gili Eco Trust has established. With the majority of the overheads coming from the free refreshments offered by the sponsoring business. We work alongside the waste management yayasan FMPL, so the cost of transport to remove/sort/recycle the rubbish is minimal as it is incorporated as part of their job.
Since Covid has closed many island businesses, the only overheads now are snacks (provided by a local cook who we support), hand washing facilities & promotion. A DFF event costs around $20USD now.
In future, we aim to provide Tshirts to regular cleaners to promote the cleanups, and to offer further incentives to clean along with better promotion.
Return on investment: How much did it cost to implement these activities? How do your results above compare to this investment?
Due to such a grassroots operation, we have mainly invested time. The efforts and the strict consistency of planning have brought in a huge return of investment, measured in volunteer numbers, publicity and beach debris collected.
Beach clean equipment is cheap/upcycled.
- Laundry scales are used for collecting weight data = $4
- Bags are from the recycle facility or from the local cat charity = $8 x 50 bags or free cat biscuit bags
- Horsecart waste transportation = $5
- Doughnuts = $3
The sorted beach debris is donated to the recycling facility where it is processed and then sold on mainland to a larger facility. This in turn brings a small profit to the waste management campaigns on the island and local staff salaries.
How could we successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?
Easily! We are transparent and offer advice & documents to any organization that wants to set it up elsewhere.
The movement has been replicated on a similar-sized island in the Philipines called Malapascua. They coined it Debris Free Thursday and collaborated between environmental organizations that operate there independently. It was their first collaborative effort. One organization in charge of stakeholder communications for sponsors, another for the location development and planning, another for beach clean equipment and finally those with contacts with the local school children.
All it needs is continuity and a dedicated project manager to ensure that it goes ahead each week. We provided them with advice, info packs, media coverage, and media toolkits to get them established.
We've assisted on similar startup projects offering logistics advice to:
Lombok Ocean Care
Lombok Plastic Free