Niluh Indrawati is the co-founder of Kerobokan-based recycling and manufacturing firm Bombastic Plastix, which makes items such as fashionable bags out of used plastic. The 29-year-old Balinese shared her day with The Bali Times

We’re definitely small potatoes but at least we’re doing something.

I get up early in the morning and do my chores like a proper Balinese woman. I clean and sometimes go to the market and prepare food for the day. When I’m done with all of that and I’ve got myself ready for the day, I go to work at the Bombastic Plastix house.

My partner Sam and I started experimenting with making bags and wallets out of plastic bags about a year ago, but it was only about six months ago that we got to the point where we were making a quality product with enough consistency to start marketing them.

In the morning I plan what we need to do that day and make sure everyone knows what they’re doing. It’s a really small operation: we have four or five people working in the house at one time, preparing plastics, cutting and sewing. We only have one sewing machine in the house so it’s used only for experimenting and making samples. For final products we send the prepared plastics out to professionals.

Every day is a learning process for Sam and I and most of what we do is experimentation and being creative with designs. Our staff is like a little family and we all work together to make the best possible product, but we also have a lot of fun.

During the day I have a lot of quality-checking to do, for example making sure the plastic is washed properly, which we do in a industrial washing machine to get any dirt, germs or smell out of the plastic. Sometimes I go to check the sewing of the final products and even go to the rubbish dumps to pick up bags from the sorters.

We realized early on that we have to have the best possible plastic bags to make quality products, so we pay about 20 rubbish collectors to pick out the best bags and give them a preliminary wash for us. They usually don’t want to pick up plastic bags because they only get Rp1,500 (12.5 US cents) per kilogram of bags, but we pay four or five times more than that. We feel like this is one way for us to help the garbage collectors as well as get the plastic off the streets.

We don’t claim to be a green company and we aren’t environmental activists, but we do care a great deal about Bali and Sam and I both see the damage plastic is doing to the island. We’re definitely small potatoes but at least we’re doing something.

We need to start teaching Balinese kids when they are very young about environmental problems and the damage they are doing by throwing plastic into gutters and rivers. It’s a shame really because there is so much that can be done with plastic.

Emailing and calling suppliers and distributors is part of my day as well. We have shops in Australia and the UK stocking our products and we hope to break into the American market as well. Here in Bali, Bali Bakery and 3rdborn stock our products and they seem to be really popular. We are still building the company and we still don’t have the equipment or staff to produce on a large scale, so we don’t have too many stockists.

Recently I’ve been busy getting in touch with suppliers of recycled threads and zippers so we can make the bags and wallets 99.9 percent recycled as right now they have elements that aren’t recycled.

I’m usually really busy during the day, but I definitely love my job. I get to be creative and experiment. Every day holds some new development. Before I was doing this I trained as an accountant and I love that I can challenge myself with something completely different now. I still work as an accountant for a small restaurant nearby at night, which just about fills up the rest of my day. I’m pretty busy but to have the freedom run my own company I know I have to work hard.

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