Finding Motivation from Expedition: TRI was born!
Let me take you back to how it all started.
My first expedition to Borneo
In October 2015, a group of researchers and conservationists from the Borneo Nature Foundation came to my school and showed us a film called the Heart Of The Haze. That year was one of the worst ever recorded forest fire and haze seasons in Borneo. This film showed us the catastrophic fires that were happening only about 1000 kilometers away from us in Bali. My family and I were astounded that it was happening on an island so close to us so we decided we needed to see it ourselves. So together with students from the Green School Bali and some local Balinese students we went to Kalimantan in May 2016.
During this expedition we witnessed areas where forests were burnt to ash, we saw peatland forests stripped bare to illegal sand mines, we listened to indigenous gamelan music while watching Dayak youth perform dances, we met with young Dayak activists, we waded through peatland swamps in the Sabangau Forest, and of course, we saw orangutans. This whole trip gave me an idea of how vulnerable Indonesia’s forests are and how no matter where you are in the world, we have a direct impact on them. When we got back home we wanted to do something to protect forests, so we started TRI.
Starting a social enterprise
TRI is all about promoting conscious consumption and a planet Earth with more trees. We want people to know that the way they consume has a direct impact on the world’s forests. And we want people to be more connected with nature because if we have a world of tree lovers, why would anyone cut them down?
We take in discarded fabrics and turn them into products to promote conscious consumption. With the profits that we make from selling these products we support grassroots organizations on the ground, mainly in Indonesia. Whether it’s from growing awareness, providing masks for people to be able to breathe, increasing patrols, providing education or doing research, all these efforts one way or another have an impact on Indonesia’s forests. So, TRI allows us to direct resources to good people in Kalimantan, Sumatra ,and Bali that are doing this type of work to protect forests.
Next steps for TRI
TRI started as my grade 8 graduation project at Green School Bali. It is now a registered business in Indonesia and we have a team of people working on it. As the Co-founder of TRI, my role is to be a spokesperson for this social enterprise. I am now on a 6-month journey around the world to share TRI’s story and raise awareness about what’s happening with Indonesia’s forests.
We started this journey with 4 goals: to experience forests around the world, to meet with people who are working to protect them, to share our story and tell people about Indonesia’s forests, and to expand our market for TRI products. With those intentions in mind we have met with ethical fashion enthusiasts in the Philippines, with fellow upcyclers in Korea, with social entrepreneurs in Calgary, we’ve presented to students at schools in the US and the UK, and we learned from indigenous people and grassroots organizations standing together to protect forests at the COP 23 climate change conference in Germany. Recently we’ve just presented at some schools in Nepal. We have two weeks to go in India and plenty more opportunities to explore.
One project we’re excited about came from an experience we had from presenting to Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut. Not only did they agree to purchase 200 of our TRI bandanas with a custom school design, they also want to be involved in learning with us and supporting our efforts. They could be selling our products, creating content for our social media, doing a bedsheet drive and they could even be innovating new TRI upcycled products. What could we accomplish if we had a growing team of young learners around the world helping us to protect forests in this way?
The reason why I’ve gotten here as a founder and spokesperson is because of exploration. If I hadn’t gone out to Kalimantan to see these things first hand, I wouldn’t have felt the real personal connection and the urge to want to do something about it. Exploration gave me the knowledge and experience which are tools that help me to make the story that I tell people about Indonesia’s forests more real for them. Further exploration will help me grow my experience so I can be a better spokesperson and have a bigger impact on protecting forests.