Tehoru’s waste management started off as a youth movement

The sun was setting and it was time for Isya prayer. An adhan echoed in Tehoru village, calling people to assemble. But the Tehoru youth were already standing by in the area. They wanted to see their friends who were invited as guests for an online talk show.

Agus Hatapayo and Mega Rumarogan are members of Tehoru Kalesang Sampah (TRASH) Indonesia and they were invited by Masyarakat Dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI) to speak in an Instagram Live session. TRASH Indonesia is a youth volunteer community that successfully encouraged their village to develop more effective waste management methods.

It is often easier for younger generations to resonate to waste issues. Today’s generation was born into an era with a serious environmental crisis. Rapid information-sharing on social media also makes it easier for them to be aware, as many users are young people. However, it is a little bit different in Tehoru. Many of them are not on Instagram or Twitter. They are just young people who grew up in a small town with waste management issues.

“We felt uncomfortable. We wondered why Tehoru has so many environmental issues. One of the biggest issues is that our nature is really badly polluted. That’s why we united: to clean the rivers, beaches, and pond,” said Mega.

Tehoru communities attended socialization on sustainable fisheries by MDPI. It is a village where the majority are fishers.

It was not easy to unite the youth in Tehoru, especially to manage waste. Tehoru youth were segmented into different groups and communities. At first, Agus and Mega were not in the same community; Agus was a member of a literacy group, while Mega was a part of an outdoor enthusiast group. However, they eventually found a common ground and decided to work together, influencing others through education and raising awareness on environmental issues.

“We visited schools, educated the younger generation and students. As a result, they educated their parents,” explained Agus.

Tehoru’s inhabitants’ habits began to change slowly thanks to their children’s initiative. Moreover, Tehoru’s youth successfully collaborated with local government to draft a more effective waste management regulation in 2022.

Today, Tehoru is equipped with waste management facilities such as an integrated waste processing site and a motor vehicle to transport neighborhood waste to and from it. Both facilities were provided by the provincial government of Maluku and local authorities. With these facilities, Tehoru tries to utilize valuable waste that could be an addition to the village’s sources of income.

“We take trash from local households, then sort it in our processing site, and we plan to sell the valuable trash to external collectors. Profit will be used for operations management, not for our personal gain,” added Agus.

TRASH Indonesia has also initiated awareness raising events about waste. Throughout 2022, MDPI supported TRASH Indonesia and the local government to organize waste sorting socialization, beach clean-ups, and a brand audit for all the collected waste. These activities involved many stakeholders, including the government, Indonesian army, fishers, students, and other local communities members.

“We don’t need super powers to save the world. We just need to take care of the environment to become superheroes,’ they added.