The dream island of Bali is now known not only for its beautiful surf beaches, but also for the so-called Bali garbage - huge piles of garbage that collect some of these dream beaches. The shocking photos of this Bali garbage nightmare circulate with amazing regularity through the Internet and it is reported again and again. But is anything actually happening? And where does all this Bali garbage come from anyway, when in Corona times there is only limited tourism on Bali anyway? We took a closer look at the Bali garbage problem and came up with some promising solutions that you can even participate in.
Where does the Bali garbage problem come from?
On the photos of the tour operators or tourism organizations Bali is a paradise. Endless long beaches with bright blue sea and white sand, behind them an intact vegetation in rich green, tropical palms and ripe coconuts... one feels directly, how the vacation mood rises. But Bali unfortunately also has its downsides. They await you especially as soon as you leave your ideal hotel or resort world. The real "island reality" consists of an unbelievably high traffic volume, a miserable infrastructure, increasing air pollution and extremely much garbage - at the roadside, in the cities, at the beach, in the landscape, in the forests... actually everywhere. The so-called Bali garbage.
Now you may wonder where this Bali garbage comes from - mainly in Corona times. There are less tourists on the island, so there should be less garbage.
Unfortunately, this calculation is only partially correct. Of course, the tourists are responsible for a lot of garbage. But there are also a few other factors. Above all, the annually recurring flood of garbage on the beaches is caused by the ocean currents influenced by the monsoon. These bring the garbage from the ocean directly to the beaches of Bali. Increasing mass consumption according to Western standards, among tourists and locals, as well as the island's poorly functioning waste disposal system are also responsible for Bali's garbage.
Bali: Plastic waste is getting out of hand
The result: Bali sinks in the garbage, especially the plastic waste on Bali increases enormously. This Bali garbage not only clouds the surfing fun on the vacation island, but also pollutes the environment enormously. Plants, animals and especially the underwater world suffer from plastic bags, plastic bottles and - worst of all - microplastic. We'll get to that in detail later. But in order for us to avoid all this Bali trash, we need to know where it comes from. Bali can't do anything about ocean currents, but it can do something about everyday things. Let's remember how life on Bali was just a few decades ago. It was a life in harmony with nature. We ate what the earth had to offer, drank coconut or spring water, and what had to be packed was wrapped in a banana leaf. If one threw this after the meal into the landscape, it was no problem.
In the meantime, however, this banana leaf has been replaced by non-decomposable disposable plastic. And that does cause a problem when it is thrown into nature after use. Two things come together here. First: the habit of people. And second: the increasingly "western" standards. Large corporations supply Bali with food in plastic packaging, for the disposal of which the appropriate measures have not yet been taken. Neither has it been explained to the locals how to dispose of this "new" garbage, nor has a functioning, regular garbage disposal system been provided. And so more and more Bali garbage accumulates.
The Bali garbage problem has many aspects
Of course, there are many additional aspects to Bali garbage and its generation that need to be considered. For example, it can happen that one day there is no Bali garbage in sight for kilometers, and the very next day it piles up to dizzying heights. How does this happen? One explanation is the rain. It washes the garbage, which was dumped inland behind the next bush into the embankment, onto the beaches or out into the sea. There it meets the garbage carpets, which are driven by the ocean current and already huge amounts of Bali garbage are created.
Also worth knowing: Tourism has become less on Bali, but the garbage has not decreased because of that - how can that be? Well, many Balinese have lost their jobs due to the decreasing number of tourists and since then keep their heads above water with small businesses. For example, with delivery services for food. And that has to be packed, preferably with cheap plastic. Then there are the countless disposable masks... and we could easily go on and on with this list. Now do you understand a little better how Bali trash is made up?
Bali: garbage beach or surf beach
For Bali, the garbage problem is particularly explosive because, on the one hand, it is already so advanced and, on the other hand, it quite directly affects the future of the vacation island. Because what happens if the Bali garbage becomes so rampant that bathing, surfing and diving are no longer possible? Then the tourists look for another vacation destination, the hotels must close and jobs are lost. The whole island, which depends on the money of the tourists, would suffer from this development. And then there would be the health consequences that the polluted sea and the dirty beach full of Bali garbage mean for the locals.
And one more thought: Besides the Bali garbage that you can see floating around directly, there is also the Bali garbage that is invisible to us. We mean the finest micro plastic particles that float in the sea, are eaten by fish, thereby ending up on our plates and thus in the food chain. So you see it's high time, the Bali garbage problem. We have to act. The lack of garbage disposal and awareness of Bali garbage are terrible facts. But they also have their good: they can be changed.
Our vision: Bali plastic-free
And we want to actively change something about Bali's waste, because Bali - as surf enthusiasts - is naturally very close to our hearts. When we met Dominik, the founder of Oceanmata, while surfing on the island, it was immediately clear to us: we'll join in! Dominik and his crew collect huge amounts of plastic waste on Bali. More than 85,000 kilograms of Bali trash have now been removed from the beaches through his commitment - with a strong upward trend.
Each kilogram of Bali trash is documented and sorted appropriately, for example by type of plastic, condition and color. It is then shredded, washed and processed into pellets. These can then be used for new products, such as cell phone cases. All collected materials that are not suitable for this recycling are disposed of properly in cooperation with local institutions.
We support this great commitment with our products and with our packaging. For each wahu Balance Board, Oceanmata collects and recycles one kilogram of plastic. But that's not enough for us. Not only do we want to help collect Bali trash, but we also want to prevent even more plastic waste from being created. For this reason, we have designed our board and its packaging 100% plastic-free. It's good for the environment and looks a lot better too, don't you think? It's also healthier, more sustainable and higher quality.... do you need more advantages? Then we'll be happy to tell you all about our special connection to Bali and of course our promise for sustainability & quality.
Garbage collection & anti-pollution education
Of course, besides Dominik from Oceanmata, there are many more people actively tackling the Bali garbage problem. Also impressive is the commitment of the Italian Paola Cannuciari and her organization ecoBali. For more than 15 years, she has been doing valuable educational work on Bali and has also established a weekly garbage collection service for Bali garbage. In doing so, she motivates both private individuals and companies not to carelessly throw away their garbage and offers them an alternative right away: The garbage is collected, separated and recycled. Paper and glass, for example, end up in the hands of local companies that use the waste to make new products. In addition, workshops and school lessons ensure that the topic of waste separation is soon firmly anchored in people's thoughts and actions.
You can do that!
So, now you are asking yourself: What can I do? More than you think. Of course you can give financial support, for example by donating to a Bali waste project or buying its recycling products. But you can also make small changes in your everyday life to reduce plastic waste in general - and therefore also Bali waste. Buy products that are durable. In this way, you contribute to the fact that less has to be produced overall. When it comes to clothing and cosmetics, you can make sure that they do not contain microplastics. In this way, you not only help the environment, but also do something good for your health. In addition to plastic-packed food, supermarkets often offer loose alternatives or plastic-free packaging. This way, you can exercise your power as a consumer with every purchase. What is no longer bought will soon also no longer be produced.
Of course, this is a slow process and you will only partially see the direct result of your commitment. But keep at it - it's worth it!
Our motivation tip: Collect the plastic that ends up in your trash for one week. Can you beat this amount the next week? And the week after that? And so on.... Challenge accepted?