XSProject is an initiative established in 2004, based on its concern for the environment, lack of awareness of disposing garbage in its place, and a large number of trash pickers in the city. In this interview, Retno Hapsari (Manager of XSProject) shares more insight about the initiative. An interview by Simran Nanwani, Photos provided by Retno Hapsari/XSProject.
Why is it called XSProject?
XS comes from the word Excess - something which exceeds normal limits.
How has your journey and growth been so far as a non profit organisation?
XSProject has been through a long winding journey filled with ups and downs. The goal is to encourage consumers to reduce waste and use products from waste that we create ourselves, so the process is not as fast and smooth as we expect. The irony is that expats are more interested in what we are trying to achieve.
With time and by continuing to focus on the vision and mission, the Foundation continues to become stronger. We ultimately could create a company that distributes products from recycling which then continues the campaign to reduce waste and use products from our own waste.
As the manager of XSProject what motivates you to continue this wonderful initiative?
What motivates me is seeing the progress and desire of the trash pickers’ children to change and get the highest education possible so that they can get out of the trash picking generation’s vicious cycle.
Has the initiative raised awareness amongst the locals to recycle, reuse and save the planet more?
Not as vigorous and serious as it should be, seeing the current world situation, awareness and concern for the environment in Indonesia is generally still lacking. Although, more and more people care about their environment which can be seen with the increase of individual interest in sorting and channeling their waste where it belongs. Yet, the journey is still long but we just have to be consistent and continue pursuing.
Recently we noticed you have branched out to a company PT. XSProjek. Tell us more about it?
Yes, so when the XSProject Foundation started in 2004, it was because of our concern for the environment and social problems, especially the trash pickers. To help clean up garbage in Jakarta, XSProject started an initiative to buy garbage that the trash pickers didn’t manage to sell. With the hope that this purchase can add to their additional income. One of the sorts of garbage that we ask to collect is plastic packaging waste. We then process the waste again through a sorting and washing process, and so it finally becomes a raw material that we can use to make new quality and functional products.
We use this product as a campaign tool, and a means of reminding and teaching to refuse or reduce waste and to think of solutions about unprocessed waste. In the beginning, we used the sales proceeds to help educate the children of the trash pickers who sold their garbage to us.
Over time, our social activities have become stronger and more independent, as well as the production and distribution activities. So, at the end of 2019, the Foundation decided to open a more professional production and distribution line by forming a company to continue its activities to produce recycled and upcycled products.
Can you share with us some success stories?
Initially, when XSProject started, we only focused on children graduating from elementary school, but now there are students who have become university graduates. The foundation and the children themselves did not dream of reaching that high. It is evident that there is a lot of interest in wanting to gain higher education. In the beginning, it was also very difficult to convince parents (trash pickers) on the importance of education for their children. Now, they have seen and understand the importance of education for their children and the benefits of joining the foundation so their children can go to school.
What are your plans for the foreseeable future?
Continue to be one of the solutions of turning unwanted waste into functional and quality products produced by professional workers. And keep focusing on changing the lives of trash pickers’ children to get a better future than their parents.
Seeing the amazing work you and your team are doing, would it be right to say you are evolving Kartini’s dream of encouraging education amongst children, including girls?
In my opinion, it can be said that our activities are evolving or in line with Kartini’s dream which is to encourage and focus on education for children. Actually not only children but also their parents, because education is not only in school but also at home and in the community. Including girls? Well, not really but you can put it that way as in fact, only mothers care about the education of their children. Fathers normally opt out and don’t really pay attention to their children’s education. Many mothers in the community share how in their childhood they wanted to go to high school but couldn’t
So this is a chance for them that their kids won’t be like them when they were little. Thus, it can be said we are trying to realize Kartini’s ideals in terms of providing educational opportunities for girls.
Is there a specific message you like to share to the community to inspire them?
Simply, “care for the environment and care for the people”.