The Bali Plastic Tour is well under way! Over 250 kilometers of driving, over 300 kilos collected, over 300 volunteers, 3 different school groups and still no monsoon. I’m one week in to the Bali tour and I wanted to share some of the things I have learnt and experienced.
The main way I am sharing the experience is through Instagram stories every day so please tune in! Check the highlights for what you might have missed.
I always knew the Bali Plastic Tour would be an adventure. Driving over 250 kilometers with a dog, my stuff and cleanup equipment has been interesting! Luckily I love to drive and I feel like a bad-ass on my Mimic Mobile. While driving I have had countless mosquitoes in my eyes, been stung by a wasp flying into my bra and had monkeys chasing the bike trying to attack Matahari in West Bali National Park. It’s been fun!
Matahari is the best dog ever. She sits patiently on a motorbike for 2 hours without complaining and guards my door/bed at night. I am so lucky to have her. She has been rewarded with eating out, with her food sometimes costing more than mine and being served on a plate!
Over 4,000 tonnes of waste is produced in Bali each day and only 48% is collected. Now that I have traveled to the north (with plastic in mind) I can see just how bad the crisis is. Read an overview of Bali’s Waste Crisis with all the statistics here.
One of the main purposes of the Bali Plastic Tour is to tour the whole island to understand the island-wide problem. The north is considerably worse than the south. There is trash down every side street. It just goes totally unnoticed. The locals don’t seem to care. I have been obsessing over waste management in each area. Where does it go? Is there recycling? What is that landfill like? Is there a sorting facility? Are there trash pickers there? Do they burn it? Is it near an ocean? There are so few options once you leave the comfort of the south.
In the north all the trash which doesn’t end up in the rivers / ocean is burned. Burning plastic produces dioxins which cause cancer and other serious respiratory diseases. The choice is environment vs human health.
Using less plastic
The main solution is to use less, especially the thin plastics which have no recycling value. But how can we expect local people not to use plastic? A reusable water bottle is a big investment. Try prioritizing that over your next bowl of rice. People are so poor here that they buy individual sachets of shampoo / detergent / coffee so they don’t need to invest in a whole bottle / jar. As for the local restaurants – paper straws are 7 x more expensive than plastic ones. The new law banning bags, straws and polystyrene is not enforced here at all and people barely know about it.
Then there is culture and superstition. In Balinese offerings we see individually wrapped plastic sweets, little plastic bags of water and other plastic treats for the gods. We need to go back in time. Back to organic simple offerings. After a ceremony is when we see the most plastic on the beaches. This comes from offerings and people drinking from the worst invention ever – the single use plastic cup! Thanks AQUA, Danone.
One superstition I found out about is that the Balinese believe you must throw your diapers in the river / ocean because if they get burnt your child will get sick or nappy rash. They will drive up to 20 km to dump a bag full of diapers into the nearest river.
As for the trash I have picked up and seen on the Bali Plastic Tour: so many flip flops, pens, children’s toys and of course the usual of wrappers, bottles, cups, polystyrene, straws etc.
- More landfills which have recyclables sorted from trash
- Landfills which don’t get burned
- Waste needs to be collected from households
- Cheap reusable bottles and bags
- Enforcement of the plastic ban
- Education in schools
- Plastic free offerings
Amazing people I have met
- Kelating village want to collaborate more in the future to keep their beach clean
- Nono in Gilimanuk is working so hard with Friends of Menjangan on fighting plastic in Gilimanuk and the National Park. He makes amazing upcycled bags and purses out of plastics.
- Rosa from Biosphere Foundation showed my their pilot projects with waste management in small villages and they are doing the most incredible job
Thanks to everyone for joining the Bali Plastic Tour! Special mention to: Dave, Karin, Mel, Sarah and Andy who have been just amazing in supporting me on this journey.
Want to say a massive thank you to our sponsors who are supporting the Bali Plastic Tour. Some generous people and some amazing companies. Thank you so much! We haven’t got sponsors for the second half yet so please donate today to sponsor a cleanup!
- Canggu – Edumadic
- Seseh – E Lane Traders
- Kedungu – Sian Tolba
- Kelating – Green School
- Balian – Zero Waste Bali
- Perancak – Annivie
- Gilimanuk – Dani Detorri
The next week of events we travel along the north coast and then down the east coast. All the events are on Facebook here. Please join and spread the word!