In 2011, James Wakibia became increasingly angered by the plastic pollution he saw throughout the Kenyan town of Nakuru, according to the UN.
He saw plastic bags, plastic bottles, and plastic detritus strewn along streets, piling up in lakes, and poorly managed at dumpsites.
So he decided to do something.
Wakibia began writing articles, sending letters to editors, and posting on social media to raise awareness of the harms of plastic pollution and the alternatives available, he explained in an interview with the UN.
He also used photography to convey the scale of the problem.
“I literally became obsessed with demanding a complete ban on single-use plastic bags,” he told the UN.
Wakibia’s dedication eventually earned the attention of politicians throughout the country and he helped to spur a larger movement throughout the country.
In 2017, the Kenyan national government enacted a ban on single-use plastic bags, becoming a pioneer in the global effort to end plastic waste.
“The plastic bag ban was the way to go,” Wakibia told the UN. “Kenya made a major stride by banning single-use plastic bags.”
“I would love all countries choking with plastic waste to start phasing out single-use plastic bags, straws, cups, forks, etc., and encourage other nations to emulate Kenya by banning all single-use plastic bags,” he added.