Sungai Watch, the non-profit formed by Gary Bencheghib, has installed 100 barriers across rivers on Bali, Indonesia, to collect plastic trash. Between November 2019 and July 2021, the barriers intercepted 650 tonnes of waste. Bencheghib, who grew up on Bali after his family relocated there from France, was horrified by the experience of surfing surrounded by floating plastic. He and his two siblings started organizing beach cleanups as teenagers in 2009 under the banner Make A Change. Sungai Watch, founded in 2019, was ramping up in 2020 when the pandemic hit. As Indonesia’s tourism fell off, Sungai Watch was staffing up; many employees who used to work in tourism now work for the non-profit. In addition to collecting trash and recycling it, the organization aims to educate local communities so that the flow of plastic trash in the rivers abates. Bencheghib realizes that changing hearts and minds takes time; he’s in it for the long term.

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