A World made of Plastic

Plastic Trash in Bali

One does not need to be a genius to understand that the amount of plastic bottles all of us use nowadays must have a tremendous impact on our environment. In industrial countries, we might be able to easily overlook the problem, because we trust so much in the recycling capabilities, or are at least happy not to have to see the problem, because of a functioning rubbish collection system. What I don’t understand is not there.

But we are in Bali. Developing world.An Island. A population of more than four million, with almost four million foreign tourists and eight million domestic visitors every year. An effective rubbish collection system is non-existent. Once rubbish is collected, it does not mean it is appropriately handled. First of all, there are no proper facilities, let alone an incinerator to burn the trash. There are no real rubbish recycling facilities at least non yet, that can create a volume that has an impact. And, when rubbish is on the island, most likely it stays on the island. In the forest, in river valleys, somewhere buried in the ground, but most likely it ends up in the sea.

It is not only a Bali phenomenon, nor a particular problem of IndonesiaThailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia. It’s global; the ocean is the trash can of the world. And every consumer takes part in this madness.

Motivation for Change

Individuals tend to ignore problems, making themselves believe that they are not part of it. Mainly when we travel, it is easy to assume that we are not part of the challenges Bali is facing today, because – we are only guests here. We are not part of the system, have no say in it, and anyway, we are on holidays and want to have a great time.

It’s not a secret that millions of tourists every year come to Bali and act in ways; they would never perform at home. It includes not only a higher consumption of alcohol or walking around topless or in bikinis in shops but also the way we handle trash.

We would love to remind every one of you, that Bali, is even more in need of your conscious handling of trash, than your hometown. And we are 100% convinced, once you acknowledge that fact, that you are willing and motivated, to act and consume more consciously.

And to be fair, many visitors are very aware of the situation, because they see the beaches, the trash in the rice fields and the endless line of plastic bags on the roadside. But it takes quite some effort to avoid plastic and handle any garbage responsibly because the system does not support you.

So Why bother?

It is a very valid question for two main reasons. First, the sheer amount of trash and the size of the problem is so overwhelming that it is effortless to give up on the idea that it will ever get better. This picture is taken at famous Seminyak Beach during the rainy season. The trash gets washed ashore during that time of the year quite regularly. It shows the amount of waste that must be out there in the sea.

Second, if you spend just a few days on Bali, it will be hard not to notice that many Balinese are throwing their garbage everywhere. Into the river banks, the sea, on the ground, out of their cars. One wonders, what makes them treat their land with so little respect, while in many ways, they consider Bali as a sacred place.

The Balinese who are aware of this phenomena is quite angry at their fellow citizens, and blame it on lack of education and lack of knowledge. It is true that decades ago, everybody threw away everything and never bothered because most things were packed in Banana leaves or newspapers. If you talk to kids and you tell them, that plastic will not biodegrade and at best become small and end up in the stomach of a fish, they are super amazed and can’t believe it.

But we should bother. We must bother, even if many around us do not. You will be amazed, how many friendly chats you will have with mutual interested folks, who wonder why you did not use a plastic bag at the convenience store. Or why you decided to buy a refill in one of the eco-friendly restaurants, instead of a new water bottle.

There is much that you can do, without jeopardizing your well deserved holiday and turning yourself into a grumpy ambassador for the recycling industry. First, we need to acknowledge the power of being the consumer. And then act on this power and choose more consciously which products we buy.

Your choices will have an impact. No matter what!

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