Fantastic, no plastic!
It was June 23rd, 2019. A sunny, breezy day in Bali when history was made with an official announcement banning single-use plastic.
The news was long-awaited as the island had been grappling with serious plastic pollution both on land and its waterways. The hard work of local communities, organizations, and youth groups in raising the issue with the government had finally paid off.
Eighteen months later, and more than a decade since the Pixar movie premiere of Wall. E, an animation about a small waste-collecting robot, we all reach for our non-plastic, recycled shopping bag at cashiers and checkouts across the island.
Try asking staff at the supermarket or a department store for a plastic bag, and watch them raise an eyebrow to your request, or better still, laugh, thinking you must be kidding.
However, we are still a far cry away from totally eradicating the problem of single-use plastics. With the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, amongst other uses, it sometimes feels like we have returned to square one as the use of disposable masks and online shopping (and its related polluting packaging) have increased significantly.
While the lack of a centralized waste management system in many areas in
Indonesia are still on the mend, there are key elements we can manage individually. Our behavior at home, in the workplace, and in our own community should be the beginning of sustainable change efforts.
Since the war against plastic waste was announced, local communities, villages, hotels, restaurants, and other establishments have become aggressive with their waste management plans. Both locals and tourists are encouraged to participate, local produce is gaining more attention, restaurants are implementing zero waste programs, and small business units are being born, promoting recycled and upcycled goods.
On a larger scale, more waste banks for sorting are being built alongside composting facilities, to help reduce the total waste going to the island’s landfills.
To prevent future waste output and increase sustainability and awareness, reaching out to local schools to educate children in environmental science is also being done.
Bali Island School, the longest established IB School on the island, plays a key role in contributing towards reducing plastic waste. The students have been very involved when showing their concerns and love for Bali’s environment.
Some key initiatives and activities BIS students have carried out are:
- Sharing the Planet” an exhibition on ‘Biodiversity relies on maintaining the interdependent balance of organisms within systems’
- Beach cleaning activities regularly
- The discouragement of the plastic water bottles and single-use plastic bags on school premises, with encouragement for students to bring their reusable container
- Participating in coral planting program
- Practicing waste separation
Heavy involvement in these initiatives across all sectors is designed to reduce the likelihood that plastic bottles, single-use containers, and plastic straws continue to cover our beaches as we currently experience, especially during the rainy season.
Here’s to white sand beaches, crystal rolling waves, and clear streams of rivers with no plastic in sight!