Activist turns Jakarta suburb into green oasis

Mon Jul 6, 2009 1:12am EDT
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By Lenita Sulthani

JAKARTA (Reuters Life!) - In many areas of Jakarta, the air pollution is choking, what little green spaces there are wilting and garbage festers on street corners. And then there's Banjarsari, a green oasis on the outskirts of city.

The neighborhood was once yet another dirty, polluted suburb of Indonesia's congested capital.

But thanks to decades of work by environmental activist Harini Bambang Wahono, who promised herself to make Banjarsari clean and green when she moved there in 1983, recycling and tree-planting are now second-nature to most residents.

"What encouraged me to do this is my poor farming family background," Wahono, who hails from Central Java, told Reuters.

"I have been taught since I was young about the environment, recycling and loving the plants by my farmer father. So when I first moved here, I started an effort to make the area green. I just wanted to have an environment as green as my hometown."

The 3.3 sq km (1.27 sq mile) neighborhood, with more than 1,000 residents, boasts green swathes which provide shade in the summer heat.

All the households, even the smallest, have made room to grow flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs, which is fertilized using organic waste from the kitchen.

Other, non-organic garbage is recycled with paper turned back into paper while plastic is used to weave mats and bags.   Continued...