Good morning Bali! Oh look, someone started a bonfire, how nice. Wait….that doesn’t smell like a bonfire…..OHHH, someone is burning TRASH!

 

I am so glad that in our travels we got to see several sides of Bali. In Ubud, a town where there is a big yoga business growing and they are used to tourists, signs to recycle are everywhere, and no trash is in sight. Lovely. In the small village of Tianyar ( and other poor villages, I assume) things are different. Apparently he government does not pick up trash (or does so minimally) and there is no recycling system in place. The result is that residents usually make small piles of trash on the beach or in their yards, or dig holes for larger amounts and then set the trash on fire. This includes large amounts of plastic, aluminum, and even things like light bulbs. Walking around residents breath this in and you see remnants of burnt (and not burnt) trash along paths, roads, where children play and where animals that are eaten live.

 

Another issue leading to the piling up of trash, specifically plastic trash is the fact that conserving appears to be more expensive for people who cannot afford much to begin with. For example: many people here ( including us while we stayed I won’t lie), drink water from small plastic containers that you puncture with straws (manufactured by Dannone). Each cup is just a few ounces and a typical adult could go through dozens in the Bali heat. Why not buy the larger jugs of filtered water? Larger containers are cheaper in the long run right?Well, because they are more expensive in the short run (about $15 us). With an income of anywhere between $100-200 us a month, probably less in this village, $15 is A LOT and we were told that most people are only able to think of paying for things day by day. The same is true of shampoo: instead of buying a large bottle, people buy single use packets–single use!!!

 

At the learning center where we stayed, several volunteers started a week of lessons on the environment and we worked to start a compost bin and to create separate bins for organic waste, plastic, paper and other non organics. One volunteer sent many emails to the government and private organizations trying to get the plastic picked up and recycled. One private company, Eco Bali, responded; however by the time we left, the plastic had still not been picked up. And then there is the issue of cost….

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The bins that are beginning to be used at the Yayasan, with signs made by the students

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Compost bin created by students


Student signs for the compost bin

 

I know that that infrastructure and environmental management are huge issues in many countries, but I did not expect it here. Education on pollution and the environment would be of some help and serious government ( or private company) intervention is needed…as is funding for all this……Bali is SUCH a beautiful place, paradise truly, with such a lovely culture and wonderful people….what can be done?

 

Does anyone have any input? Any experience with environmental management in the US or other countries (specifically developing countries)? Any information and dialogue is encouraged. Thanks!!!

 

-Kirsten