Bali, featured, Sustainability, Travel, Volunteering

Bali’s plastic problem

The country truly is a paradise, in hindsight I think the spirituality of the people affects a visitor quickly by osmosis whether you believe it or not.  The sun is hot, honestly scorching hot and I’m a sun seeker….normally!  The humidity more than I could ever imagine, I’m sweating in places I’ve not before.  And yet, all was good.  I was happy to sit and be.  Beautiful beaches and landscapes made a busy mind relax.  All thoughts of the western world as we know it dissipated except one reminder – plastic rubbish and waste.

traditional boats
The country has a problem and a large proportion of the population don’t see it.  This is where relying on spirituality can become a problem.
As in most 3rd world countries, the locals need educating about the basics before its becomes epidemic.
Primarily the plastic bag – all fruit, vegetable and rice market stalls give you a small blue plastic bag.  You cannot hide a blue bag is a green field.  The water needs to be bottled or filtered but it is sold in 330ml or 500ml in their 1000s every day.  In a country that hot then 1litre will be consumed equally as fast so they could stop all smaller bottle sales.
A fast food consumer culture is exacerbating.  On my trip I had 2 packed lunches – 1 served in a cardboard box with a plastic tray to hold the food, a plastic food bag for the sauce and all tied up with a plastic band in a white plastic carrier bag.  There were 12 of us in the group, each with the same.
My 2nd packed lunch was amazing and I cannot imagine why the locals would want to move away from all my food wrapped up in leaves.  Looked like an upside down pyramid with small wooden sticks to hold it together.   Rice in the bottom, leaf on top to stop the wet food seeping down, top layer was spicy vegetable, tofu, chicken and a very small clingfilm purse of sauce.  We’ll never get away from the plastic problem.  This was tradition and much more impressive.  Lastly we had our guide’s dog to hoover up when we needed to get on trekking.
It felt like the locals are oblivious to the consequences of littering and clearing of rubbish is “someone else’s problem”, the waste travels south with the heavy rains resulting in gorgeous clear blue sea filled with excited snorkelers and much marine life avoiding the plastics.  The blue plastic paradise will not bring in the tourists.
A fantastic channel I saw on YouTube is of 2 young sisters and their friends taking on this major environmental catastrophe waiting to happen.  Through hard work and determination including a petition of one million signatures and a publicised 24-hour hunger strike, the girls eventually met with the Governor of Bali, I Made Mangku Pastika, who made the promise to ensure a plastic bag-free Bali by 2018.
Watch TED Talks to hear from the inspirational young ladies themselves.
I think the country has a long way to go however this is a very good start from young people who care about the future of their country.  Check out their next beach clear up and other activities
If you go to Bali, and I highly recommend you do, then be the example.  Carry a shopping bag, don’t accept their plastic option and you will have to buy water but buy in the

largest size you can and share it.  These are simple enough so no excuse.


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