Pandemic Pushes Indonesians to Adopt Healthier Lifestyle

A handwashing facility on Jalan Jenderal Sudirman in Central Jakarta. (SP Photo/Ruht Semiono)(

Jakarta. - The Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment said the Covid-19 pandemic has forced Indonesians to change their behavior and adopt a cleaner and healthier lifestyle, something the government has been trying to get them to do with years of public campaign.

The ministry's forest and environmental management deputy, Nani Hendiarti, said most Indonesian now follow the Covid-19 health protocol, which includes washing hands regularly and wearing a facemask.

"People have been forced to change their behavior. But the ministry will continue its healthy lifestyle campaigns to help the government contain the spread of the coronavirus," Nani said on Monday.

She said the coronavirus pandemic has triggered a quick behavioral change among Indonesians.
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Before the pandemic, the ministry had been promoting a healthier lifestyle through its Gerakan Indonesia Bersih (Clean Indonesia Campaign), which was launched in April 2019.

The campaign, which encourages Indonesians to reduce waste, was part of the government's larger focused Mental Revolution Campaign regulated under a 2016 presidential instruction (Inpres).

The Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment and the Environment and Forestry Ministry initiated the campaign and are responsible for its implementation.

"We've created a variety of educational programs to encourage behavioral changes," Nani said.

She admitted the campaign has faced a lot of challenges and that the government is now trying to cash in on the momentum from the behavioral changes caused by the pandemic.

Managing Waste During Pandemic

Indonesian ministries are set to collaborate to tackle the increasing number of plastic waste during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the changes in behavior, a study from the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) showed that Indonesia's household plastic waste increased almost twice during the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, each citizen produced one to five grams of plastic waste per day, now they produce around five to ten grams.

"Due to the shelter-in-place policy, the number of food delivery orders, which mostly use plastic packaging, increased. The solution should use a circular economy approach, meaning reuse, reduce and recycle," Nani said.

According to a report from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, Indonesia currently also produces 290 tons of medical waste every day, around 50 percent of which are related to Covid-19 cases. Currently, Indonesia can only manage 170 tons of medical waste per day.

"We will encourage the use of incinerators to burn off medical waste and minimize their environmental impact," Nani said.