Beaches, green fields, rivers, waterfalls – all associated with nature and beauty; these places give a sense of pride for Bali’s residents. But what’s more: they are icons to Bali’s paradise, tourism and image. “Plastic Island”, however, has begun an aggressive takeover. Threatening the kingdom that patriotic Balinese have built over centuries, we are entering an era of struggle to preserve this island’s natural beauty. Our beloved home is slowly losing value thanks to the great colonization of trash.
Thankfully, on the 1st January 2019, a year ago, Mr. I Wayan Koster, Bali’s Governor, officially banned the use of plastic bags. Although a major progress towards a friendlier eco-living, the negative impacts of plastic and trash can only become fully exterminated by a step-by-step progress at the grassroots levels. Believing the collective power of the people, the revolutionary “One Island One Voice” organization decided it’s time for action to stop plastic trash from entering our ocean. We, at Taman Rama Intercultural School – Bali (TRISB), are just as highly determined to become a part of the movement.
The 15th February 2020 witnessed the biggest-ever Bali beach clean-up, enacted at 115 different locations all over Bali. In Lembeng beach, Ketewel, 50 of TRISB’s volunteering members ventured out at 6.30 a.m. on a Saturday sunrise. Wearing rubber gloves, cautionary face masks, and using reusable rice sacks; they had enormous team spirit, solicitude, and enthusiasm. I, for one, felt extremely inspired by many of my fellow peers as we walked the shoreline together collecting trash.
Tara; our beach clean-up coordinator, an 18-year-old environmentalist, and a “Yok, Go Green” member believes, “Everyone has their struggles and challenges. But those who got involved became the heroes of today. I’m incredibly proud by our volunteers who, like me, choose to channel that young passionate solidarity into saving the environment and our island Bali. The issue of waste on beaches is a serious concern and must not be underestimated. I pledge to save our environment because it is my duty to do so.”
60 minutes of the time spent collecting, identifying and separating the trash, we managed to get 15 bags full of recyclable and non-recyclable trash. After conducting a mandatory survey, we noticed that 50 disposed sandals, 15 glass bottles dominate the recyclable bag, while about 80 straws and 100+ plastic packaging dominate the non-recyclable, and each of the two samples is found in one bag alone! If you think that’s already disturbing, that’s not all…
The “bigger” issues we had were collecting microplastics nestled among tiny particles of sand. Knowing that fish can hardly differentiate actual food and microplastics, we knew these smaller particles are just as deadly dangerous as bigger materials, especially as microplastics can easily travel up the food chain. Marine life is at stake. Indirectly lives are at stake. We have to do something more. That’s why our “Yok, Go Green” after school club has been very keen to do our part to save the environment; starting from a change in our school community consumption habits.
“Yok, Go Green” translates as “Let’s Go Green”. The club began its first attempt on changing habits by focusing awareness from single-use plastic bottles to reusable bottles in 2018: The aim being to reduce plastic trash. Our solution included providing drinking water gallons in school hallways, and refills charged between one to two thousand rupiah.
Wishing to do more for environmental awareness, Eight members set out to present ideas and speak in morning assemblies, arranged gallon pickups for 5 days a week, and sold colourful water bottles to show that an environmentally-friendly living is achievable for everyone! Triumphant in 2019, we embarked on more conquests and continued our journey on the “Zero-waste” initiative.
Focusing on a larger scale of waste reduction such as paper, food and plastic waste, our new idea was to implement an extra 5000-Rupiah tariff for school canteen customers who did not bring and use their own reusable food containers. Committed, my friend Dhanti and I prepared presentations to help explain our plans and were soon heard and approved by the school community. Across the school participation in the new scheme has been excellent. It’s heartening to know that in some classes 100% of the students are regularly using reusable containers. Some classes, however, still need some convincing that they too collectively matter to the environment. Nevertheless, “responsible and fun”, would be the best way to describe our initiatives so far.
As part of the younger generation, we were born into this world with plastic already well-alive, popular and convenient, especially here in Bali. Through our lessons and extracurricular activities we’re learned about the consequences of plastic waste. We still have many more things to do, we are trying to make a difference, and we’re not giving up.
Written by Adhelia Putri (Year 12)