• News
  • How Melati Wijsen Inspired A Global Community Of Changemakers Committed To Change

How Melati Wijsen Inspired A Global Community Of Changemakers Committed To Change

Discover how the youth activist launched a movement to ban plastic bags and created a global organization to empower the next generation, with help from Canva.


Melati Wijsen, from Bali, Indonesia, started her mission to make positive change in the world as a young student. At 12 years old, Melati founded Bye Bye Plastic Bags with her then-10-year-old sister, Isobel.

“We saw this problem of plastic pollution growing bigger in our island home of Bali, and so we thought one day, what are we going to do about it?” Melati, now 21, tells Canva.

“I had absolutely no idea what the word ‘changemaker’ was at that point. I just saw a problem and thought, ‘We’re not going to wait until someone else takes action.’ And that's when we started our first organization, Bye Bye Plastic Bags.”

Making An Impact Through Visual Design

The sisters spread awareness of their clean-up campaigns through schools and community workshops, and connected with policymakers and audiences worldwide, both in-person and through social media.

“We had no business plan, no strategy, no budget. Just a very clear vision to make our island home of Bali plastic-free,” Melati said.

They turned to Canva as a visual communications platform to create impactful posters and highly shareable social media templates to spread their passionate messages with global audiences.

“I didn't have the knowledge or skill set to design, but suddenly, we were able to create posters that looked professional but also kept that youth aspect and spirit alive,” Melati said.

Utilizing Canva also meant Melati and her team were less reliant on hiring professional design resources, saving time and money, and gave them the ability to move fast and scale their team of volunteers.

The team’s inspiring actions ultimately led to Bali’s Governor prohibiting plastic bags. Melati says the Bye Bye Plastic Bags movement has continued to soar worldwide, with 60 teams stationed across the globe collaborating online to bring impactful change through highly visual environmental campaigns.

“Canva is now one of the biggest sources of inspiration for us to create global campaigns. Whether it’s World Oceans Day, or World Environment Day, Canva allows us to align our teams around the world to create an impact and spread the message through our design templates no matter where we are in the world,” she said.

Empowering The Next Generation Of Changemakers

A big focus for Melati today is to empower the next generation of students and changemakers through her youth-led organization, Youthtopia. “I’ve had the huge honor to travel the world and share our story of Bye Bye Plastic Bags. And the number one question we always got was, ‘How can I do what you do’?”

“We believe every single person can create change, but not every young person knows where to start,” Melati said.

Through Youthtopia, Melati aims to teach young activists how they can make a difference in the world.

Melati and her growing global team use Canva to connect and communicate with their changemaker community around the world through visual workbooks, presentations and social media posts.

“As a young changemaker, I always had ideas and visions and I think Canva was one of the tools that allowed me to take those visions and turn them into something I could share with people,” Melati said.

Collaborating As A Global Team In Canva

And while she’s traveling the globe connecting with her community, Melati admits Canva’s collaboration functionality has allowed her to quickly sync with her team and approve designs with ease.

“If I’m spending time in transit, I can literally pull out my phone and go into the Canva app to finish a project the team back at our headquarters had started. Being able to work anywhere on any device saved us so much time and energy as a team,” she said.

The Youthtopia team regularly collaborates as a group within Canva brainstorm and workbook documents, ideating in real time to creatively workshop their ideas and bring them to life.

“Canva helps us communicate our ideas for campaigns. We put all of our ideas into a document in Canva then out into the world,” Melati said.

Making An Impact On Future Generations

Melati admits one of her favorite moments during her journey as a changemaker has been connecting with her community and seeing the positive impact she’s having on the future generations first-hand.

“What personally brings me the most joy is when another student or young person sees our story on social media, or hears us during our workshops or speeches and comes up to me to say, ‘Because of your story, because of you, I know I can create change too’. And that is something I’m really proud of,” she said.

Melati’s advice for students and changemakers wishing to start their own impactful organization is three-fold: “Get clear on the type of change you want to see. Secondly, remember no matter how good of an idea or leader you are, you can’t do it on your own, so build a team around you. And last but not least, don’t forget to have fun! We cannot let go of the creativity that our generation has.”

Melati Wijsen features in Canva's 'What will you design today?' campaign.