Bali conjures up images of a dream vacation destination. Like the rest of you, this author immediately thinks of a beautiful sunset with on a pristine white beach. There is one big blemish in this scenario; ironically there is a lot of trash littered in once beautiful Bali. Locals have known, but now the world is taking notice.
If you planned on getting sun in Bali, then you unfortunately you will disappointed by all of the debris and plastic bags on the beaches of Bali. As a travel connoisseur the beaches of Bali were underwhelming due to the incredible amounts of plastic waste.
This story has a pleasant surprise though. Two young ladies, Wijsen and Melati are making sure that Bali’s name and reputation do not disappoint anymore tourists. You will never guess what they did…. they got the Bali government to agree to eliminate all plastic bags within the next two years. This is an incredible feat for anyone, but when two teenagers accomplish something of this magnitude it is just magical. This is the story of how it was accomplished.
Dismiss any negative worldviews of teenagers right now.
This story started three years ago. These two young ladies are not obsessed with their friends, followers, or snaps. They are not attached to their Iphones. They are more worried about how plastic bags are scattered throughout their beautiful homeland. When their journey started they were 10, and 13, respectively. In 2013, the “Bye Bye Plastic Bags” campaign started” to restore the perception of Bali. This is a far cry from what this author was doing at 10.
Melati and Wijsen did not just pick up litter. They participated in hunger strikes and started petitions. They were not going to let any obstacles keep them from their goal. The girls even gave their own TED talk presentation. In the TED talk they explain how they could not sit and do nothing as their island paradise became a plastic wasteland.
Bali generates an astounding 680 cubic meters of garbage every single day. This is equivalent to 180,000 gallons of garbage. Despite what you may hear less than five percent of plastic bags are actually recycled.
These ambitious young ladies convinced the Governor of Bali to completely ban plastic. This should be a constant reminder that age does not matter, the message and power of the voices are just as powerful. We just hope that the Governor honors his word.
Bali’s Trash Problem is the World’s Problem
Historically, the people of Bali have used organic materials for storage and food collection. However, when plastic was introduced to the island it became less of an oasis and more of resting place for non-degradable waste. In addition to being an eye sore it has had a tremendous negative impact on Bali’s economy which relies so heavily on tourism. Bali is no longer attracting the 10 million tourist a year on average that it did in it economic prime. Word has now gotten out because nobody wants to try to get a tan when there is garbage everywhere. Plastic is a global issue though, as 2 million plastic bags are used every minute worldwide. Each one of these plastic bags takes 500 years to degrade.
As you can see we should all be taking a stand like these forward minded teenagers. In a way, Bali is a case study for the rest of us; we are all Bali. We all need to make changes to reduce plastic use. Here are some ways that you can act locally to make a global impact.