Ahmed Ibrahim
3 min readMar 23, 2024


Sam Bencheghib and Indonesia from A to Z

Gary and Sam Bencheghib

By coincidence, I saw a reel on Instagram related to the recycling of river waste in Indonesia. It's a miracle, as I read many years ago about rivers' pollution in this quiet Asian country. I'd like to thank Sam Bencheghib, who is an environmental activist and co-founder of the Sungai Watch initiative, which is a part of The Iris Project, which is run in collaboration with the Global Greengrants Fund and has been established in memory of Iris Goldsmith, who died in a tragic accident at age 15. Iris had a deep and lifelong connection with the natural world, a gentle way with animals, and a particular love for the sea.

Sungai Watch's initial mission is to protect Indonesia’s waterways by installing barriers that prevent plastic pollution from entering the ocean. As well as working with the local community and volunteers to collect, sort,and reuse plastic pollution from rivers, Sungai Watch uses barrier installation as a tool to educate local communities about plastic pollution, and build advocacy off the back of plastic data analysis.

How has all of this begun?

After moving to Bali, Indonesia, from France at the age of 7, he started his environmental journey at a young age, along with his two siblings, Gary and Kelly. Together, in 2009, they started a weekly beach clean-up movement and eventually founded Make a Change World, a media and production company, focused on getting plastic pollution on the front page of news through video series and expeditions. In 2017, Sam and his brother Gary kayaked down Citarum, the world’s most polluted river, and inspired Indonesia’s biggest cleanup with 7,000 military soldiers.

Today, Sam and his siblings are fighting for clean rivers through their new venture, Sungai Watch. With a team of 80 full-time river warriors, they have created a streamlined decontamination process using floating barriers to collect, sort, and upcycle river plastic into value. Since starting Sungai Watch in October 2020, they have installed 180 barriers on Bali’s rivers, and they have collected 620,000 kilogrammes of plastic.

They are now on a mission to install 1,000 barriers throughout Indonesia’s most polluted rivers and begin to expand their international operations.

How does he raise awareness?

After graduation from college, he started thinking about what big project could catch people's attention in the US. So he came with this idea of run from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean with sneakers made from recycled plastic bottles. It was about bringing the two oceans together in the middle of America to create the maximum impact possible.

It is everybody’s problem. It really starts with the first step, reducing your single-use consumption as an individual.

Sam's priority was school students as he really believes in the power of youth. It's expected by the year 2048 is going to be more plastic in the seas than fishes. Because of that, it’s important to make these young people realize this is a much bigger problem than they think.

He fought single-use plastics by running 4,916 kilometers across the United States, and this wasn't the first time. In 2019, Sam ran 3,000 miles across the United States—from New York to Los Angeles—with up-cycled plastic shoes to raise awareness about plastic pollution.

You can follow him on Instagram 👇 https://www.instagram.com/sambencheghib?igsh=MTl6OG8xNngxcXNoMQ==

#environment #plastic #indonesia #plasticwastesolutions #plasticwaste #sambencheghib #sungaiwatch



Ahmed Ibrahim

Full-fledged Content Creator & Tech Journalist. Worked previously with top publishers like AkhbarTech, Abda Adv, and RobbReportArabia.