“The challenge of COVID will go. But the problem of plastic will remain”: Bidhya’s story

Bidhya, 28, from Kathmandu, is passionate about plastic. Or to be specific, getting rid of it. Despite the Nepali government banning low quality, single-use plastic bags back in 2015, fines aren’t enforced, and plastic pollution poses a growing problem to the city. Bidhya’s team of volunteers on Raleigh’s Kathmandu Recycles campaign are setting out to change that by raising public awareness of the law and lobbying government to commit to making the city free of single-use plastic forever.

I used to use single-use plastics daily. But volunteering with Raleigh in 2019 in the district of Gorkha showed me that sustainable alternatives exist, they can be affordable, and most importantly they can make a huge difference to our planet. Our team of 25 at Kathmandu Recycles is trying to do just that: use the power of young people to lobby our government for change.

In Nepal, we have a big problem with single-use plastics. From noodle packaging to plastic bags, it’s everywhere but people don’t want a replacement because alternatives are expensive. A law was passed in the Kathmandu Valley in 2015 which bans the use of plastic bags with a thickness of less than 40 microns. That’s the point at which the plastics can be recycled. But even though fines of up to Rs. 50,000 (£300) can be issued, the law just isn’t enforced.

Through Kathmandu Recycles, we are trying to bring consciousness to the public to pressure the government to enforce the law to make Kathmandu Valley free from plastic for the long run. At first, I was like, okay, can we actually do this? We’re just young people – will our politicians listen? But as a group of 25 we’re building support in the right places and I believe this will go somewhere.

If we do this right, we can send a message not just to Nepal but the world. If we start then others can begin to do the same thing where they live, too. 2021 is the year of connection. These are not just Nepalese problems or Tanzanian problems or Costa Rican problems. These are global problems, the issues of the human being. We need to act together for the betterment of the world.

I am so honoured to have been chosen as an Action not Excuses ambassador for Zero Waste. Raleigh helped me see myself as an active citizen and begin this journey of campaigning on climate issues. Youth are powerful. We have ideas and the enthusiasm to change our world. If we, like generations before us, decide to be the silent, the future for our children will be uncertain.

The challenge faced by coronavirus will go. But the problem we have with plastic and climate issues will remain unless we take action now.


Bidhya is a Youth Champion for Action Not Excuses – Raleigh International’s first youth-led global environmental campaign. You can find out more about the campaign and Bidhya’s theme Fight for Zero Waste here.


Action Not Excuses will be a platform for young people to raise their voices about the urgent issues facing our planet. Join the movement on Wednesday 24th March

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