Tiara Karina Pandiangan,Six-Year-Old Environmentalist
If a 6-year-old girl called you out for littering, how would you feel? Probably deeply embarrassed at first. Tiara Karina Pandiangan may look too cute to scold anyone, but she is serious about saving the environment and will call you out if your trash fails to find the bin. She’s got 600 pins to prove it. Today, Tiara explains what motivates her, tells us why we shouldn’t litter and reveals why she would never have a pet turtle.
What are you doing here in Menteng Park today?
I’m here for an interview.
I see. And you brought pins and stickers, too.
Yes, I’m going to hand them out. I give people a sticker and a pin and I ask them not to litter. Once, I saw a kid drop some trash on the ground and I shouted from my house, ‘Hey, don’t litter!’
Does anyone ever get upset when you approach them? Do they ever say that it’s none of your business?
Never. Sometimes I don’t say anything. I just pick up the trash and show them the trash can. The other day, I was at a park near my house and I noticed there was trash on the grass. I want to make a sign and put it up in the park so people know not to litter.
You have two kinds of pins. Can you tell me what they say?
It says ‘Don’t Litter. Small Actions, BIG Changes.’ This one says the same in Indonesian. ‘Jangan Nyampah, Dong!’ I’m going to make more pins with my designs. The next batch will say ‘Bin It, Don’t Throw It.’ That one is for people who roll down their windows and throw trash out of their car.
Who do you give the pins to? Strangers?
Yes, strangers, so they know that we shouldn’t litter.
Why is it important to teach people not to litter?
Because it could destroy the earth. If that happens, we will be extinct, and I don’t want that to happen, right? So we have to look after the earth, take care of it.
What do you think of Jakarta? Do you think there is a lot of trash in the city?
In Rasamala [a neighborhood in South Jakarta], there’s usually a lot of garbage. It’s everywhere, even though there are plenty of trash bins.
So you’re running this campaign alone?
Yes. Maybe there are people who would be willing to help.
Are your friends at school like you?
When my friends are with me, they put the garbage into the bin. But other kids litter if they don’t know me.
Do you think there are many other kids running anti-littering campaigns like you?
I don’t think most kids get involved in campaigns like this, but I had to start a campaign to urge people not to litter so that the earth won’t be destroyed.
What made you want to start helping the environment?
My mom once showed me a reusable bag, something that can be used again and again that we don’t throw away. I have a bag made of Sunlight pouches. Sunlight is for washing the dishes.
You also carry a Winnie the Pooh bag with you. What do you use it for?
I use this bag when I pick up rubbish, but I can use something else. We must ‘reduce, reuse, recycle, replace.’
Do you think your campaign will be a success?
I’m sure it will be because it’s time to be successful. Plus, I have a lot of pins and stickers here.
Can you tell us about the T-shirt you’re wearing?
I’m wearing a rhino T-shirt. I also have other T-shirts but I’m not wearing them today. I have an orangutan one and a WWF shirt, but I’m not wearing them.
You also care about animals, don’t you?
Yes. Oh, and I also have an elephant T-shirt. An elephant that can paint. It says ‘Save the Elephant’ on the front. That’s the Sumatran elephant.
You are also a member of WWF. What does WWF stand for?
World Wildlife Fund. We have to help animals that are almost extinct. We save turtles so they won’t be extinct like dinosaurs. Where’s my turtle book? [Finds it in her bag and starts reading.] Let’s save the turtles so they wont be extinct like the dinosaurs.
For your birthday this year, I heard you ran a campaign to save baby turtles.
By the time I grow older, they will be gone. Let’s be friends with turtles. We should not spill oil or throw garbage, so they won’t become extinct. In Indonesia, we have olive ridley and green turtles.
Have you seen turtles in the wild?
Only at SeaWorld. And I’ve seen the tukik [hatchlings] on TV.
Do you want a turtle as a pet? If you could keep one at home, would you?
No, because it’s not right to take turtles from the wild. Later it might die.
Jakarta has many topeng monyet [masked monkey performances]. How do you feel when you see them?
If people keep taking monkeys from the forest, they will end up like the orangutan. I feel sorry for them, they belong in the wild.
Titi, when you grow up, what do you want to be?
A teacher. I want to teach children not to litter.