When Rudi Hartono started picking up rubbish on beaches in and around his coastal community on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island more than two years ago, very few people paid attention to him.
But that changed when he began wearing a Spider-Man costume in 2018.
“Wearing the costume did the trick because it attracted people’s attention,” said Rudi, a 36-year-old cafe worker.
“Other people began joining and even the local government started doing their job of cleaning up.”
“More recently, my photos became viral and more people have joined,” he said.
Rudi said he bought the superhero costume to impress his young nephew but instead he scared the boy.
“So I decided to wear it while picking up rubbish on the beaches,” he said.
Rudi said he also removed graffiti scrawled by students on the local council building.
But he said despite the work he has done, some people are critical of his appearance.
“Some people mocked me and called me beer-bellied Spider-Man and an attention seeker,” he said. “But most people are on my side.”
About 20 per cent of plastic waste in Indonesia is believed to end up in rivers and coastal waters, according to the World Bank.
A World Bank report said every 20 minutes the equivalent of a 10-ton truckload of plastic is dumped into the waters around Indonesia, making the country the world’s second-largest plastic polluter after China.