Indonesian nuns call for protection of the environment. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari)
More than 1,000 Catholics from Jakarta Archdiocese took the streets of the capital on Feb. 21 to support the government's new push against plastic waste.
Earlier that day the government began a trial policy requiring modern retailers to charge customers 200 rupiah (less than US$1) for each plastic bag. The policy aims at reducing the use of plastic bags and improving the people's awareness on the need to protect the environment.
"In Jakarta, one problem related to environmental destruction is waste. We have a responsibility in this case," Father Alexius Andang Listya Binawan, who coordinated the Catholic response to the country's National Waste Awareness Day, told ucanews.com.
During the four-hour program, Catholics wearing headbands that read, "Brave to Care," walked the streets around the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to collect waste.
"I hope they can transmit their concern to others," Father Binawan said.
"We want to make Catholics aware of the waste issue. We want them to understand that having such a concern is an important part of their Catholic faith," he said.
He said the new policy was a good move. "We cannot stop the use of plastic bags indeed, but we can reduce it."
Charity Sister Gabriela said the program was a reflection of the Lenten season.
"We now have the Lenten season. One thing we can do is to fast from the use of plastic bags and Styrofoam. We can protect the environment by reducing waste," she told ucanews.com.
Sandra Dewi, a Catholic artist, said she was pleased to get involved in the program. "If we don't do it, then who will?" she asked.
Besides Catholics, at least 800 communities also took part in the national celebration attended by several ministers, government officials and activists.
In her speech, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar encouraged local governments to support the new policy.
"To all local governments — districts, municipalities and provinces, let's reduce [the use of plastic bags] and manage waste. This is an important message," she said.
Data from the ministry said that the country's waste has reached 175,000 tons per day or 64 million tons per year.