Most of us imagine Bali island as a perfect vacation spot with white sand and turquoise water. It cross your mind as a dreamy paradise island where everyone who saw Eat.Pray.Love wants to go and probably fall in love. But there is a seasonal phenomenon on this island happening every rainy or how locals say trash season. From December till February, in the winter months, tons of debris, carried by the strong currents, wash up on the beach and transform the tropical paradise into trash central. Creating the worst garbage crisis for visitors.
Every year, as the rain pours down, all the trash dumped in streams and rivers finds its way to the ocean and lines the coasts. Many locals are not in rush to take care of this trash problem why they still have a reliable income. But what will they do when more and more tourists will become aware of this.
Why You should Still visit Bali
Bali has many treasures and it attracts people from all around the world. It is widely known among experienced surfers for it’s perfect waves close to Uluwatu. Where they catch waves till the last sunbeam. But more and more surfers started to complain about trash that it’s getting worse every year. You would easily see plastic pieces floating in water and hitting you when you dive, swim or surf. One local surfer even started campaign to ban the use, sale, and production of plastic bags on the island of Bali. You can sign his petition to save paradise island from seasonal garbage crisis!
Another Kuta beach is also known as a place where people learn how to surf or as as the most visited beach resort in Bali. You can read all the nicest things about it: various accommodations, dining and shopping options, great nightlife. And on the peak season you will find it fully booked. But very rare sources will tell you how this place looks like right before the big cleanup to start the season.
Why bother taking care of garbage
As a person taking care of the ocean you probably know a lot about consequences of floating plastic garbage. The Pacific garbage patch of marine debris is a great threat to the food chain. It means plastic ends up in humans bodies with fish they eat. It is in our hands what health problems future generations will face and if there will be more plastic than fish as soon as in 2050.
Protecting the ocean is good for the economy too. Worldwide it brings $30 billion each year from tourism, fishing, resources for millions of people. Many of our livelihoods depend on environmental conservation. Thus we seek to preserve endangered species from extinction.
The waste is a mix of local trash and the garbage generated by Bali’s rapidly growing tourism industry. Rapid economic development driven by tourism is the primary cause of these problems. Bali has more than four million residents and over 10 million international tourists visiting each year, with a very bad waste management system it simply can’t handle the increasing garbage crisis.
When western surfers first arrived on the island the Balinese were still using organic materials that left no waste behind. But as the Western influence poured in, the island along with the rest of the Indonesian archipelago, became inundated with trash.
The island’s Governor refuse to talk about garbage crisis on the island and call it a seasonal phenomena. It is clear that collection and disposal services are not able to keep up with the volume of waste, so the debris is illegally dumped or pushed off site. It all resurfaces on the sand all of those tourists come to enjoy.
How we can deal with it
But tourism is also part of the solution. It has already heightened awareness of the polluting potential of waste and stimulated search for solutions. When local businesses won’t make money anymore they should finally open their eyes for waste problems. One of the project started in Bali is called Sampah Jujur where people get paid for reusable waste. Thanks to this project Balinese started to familiarize with idea that trash is worth picking. And now they can actually earn money by selling it.
Bali can make changes before another trash tidal wave has come. And every tourist can be part of the solution of waste management and this garbage crisis in Indonesia.
All words by Eisve Treciakauskaite and all images by Justinas Lekavicius, unless otherwise noted.