Wayan Budiasa is the body, soul and spirit of Trash Heroes Candidasa, part of a global voluntary organization that was formed in Thailand in 2013 by Roman Peter and is now present in 9 countries with 39 chapters. Trash Hero World’s mission is to create sustainable, community-based projects that remove existing waste and reduce future waste by inspiring long-term behavior change. The inspiration of the original founders as well as the founders of the Candidasa chapter has been and remains to be a deep sense of commitment to do something about the discomfort, sadness and heartbreak caused by trash polluting the beaches and environment of our beautiful and unique island.
Why is Bali’s trash problem such a serious issue?
There are many reasons why it’s important to address the trash epidemic. Not only is trash detrimental to human and animal health and to the island’s ecosystem, it’s also terrible for the economy because it has a very negative impact on tourism. Trash kills the wildlife and fish, destroys the coral and makes the beaches and water look grimly uninviting. All these systems are directly connected and essential for the livelihood of tens of thousands of fishermen, farmers and people working in the hospitality, water sport, snorkeling and diving industries – and thereby the sustainability of the high quality of life enjoyed by the majority of Balinese who rely on tourism.
How does it work?
It’s simple yet revolutionary. People come together once a week to pick up trash. That’s the foundation of each chapter. We also do our best to educate the community, spread awareness about the dire environmental impact of trash, reach out to and motivate children by visiting schools and engaging the kids in cleanup and sorting efforts, organize workshops and recycle the trash we collect.
What do you do with the trash once it’s collected?
Much of the trash we collect gets sorted and recycled. With the help of the dedicated kids from the local language school, Samuh Tunas Harapan, we separate recyclables at a trash “bank” (Bank Sampah Duta Tunas Mekar) in Samuh village. The trash is made up mostly of plastic in different forms. The students have started to make eco-bricks which will be used to make modular furniture, garden spaces and full scale buildings. The remainder goes to the local government dump (TPA).
Can the closest TPA handle all the trash you collect?
Not always. There are not enough recycling facilities on the island. Trucks haul recyclables to Surabaya in East Java, but it’s quite complicated, inefficient and expensive – far exceeding any revenue generated. The cost usually comes out of Trash Hero Candidasa donations and even out of individual’s pockets. More recycling facilities and help with transportation of trash are two areas where more government involvement would have a significant impact.
How many people are engaged on a regular basis?
Our weekly cleanups normally have 30–50 heroes taking part. Anyone can volunteer to join. Most volunteers are local residents, but sometimes a handful of foreigners and tourists join in. Rainy days might have fewer participants. Our largest cleanup last October, in which many Karangasem government officials took part, 420 trash heroes collected over half a ton of trash in one hour!
Where do you get funding?
Virtually all our funding comes from donations. A number of local businesses have made cash contributions sponsoring waste collection baskets that are now spread all around Candidasa. Donations remain key in order to sustain our undertaking. To illustrate the need, the cleaned plastic transported to Java nets less than Rp200,000 every six months after transport costs, while monthly operating costs run in the neighborhood of Rp1,000,000 per month.
Is TH taking hold in Bali’s other beachside communities?
Trash Hero Indonesia now has 9 chapters, most on Bali: Candidasa, Amed, Canggu, Sanur, Saba, Ubud, Tanjung, but also Komodo and Gili Meno off Lombok. Together we’ve collected more than 50 tons of trash that was otherwise headed to the ocean where a single plastic bottle sticks around for 450 years!
Why is it so difficult to remedy Bali’s trash problem?
The two biggest obstacles are how to reduce the source of the trash by educating people to dispose of trash properly and also what to do with the trash we’ve collected since there are not enough recycling options. Yet another big problem is the ongoing logistical challenge of separating, sorting and cleaning the trash. A particular headache is the nasty task of handling the enormous quantity of plastic bags which have virtually no monetary value. A move by the government to ban or place a “tax” on plastic bags, as has been done in many parts of the world, would go a long way to redressing that problem.
How do you know that people’s attitudes about trash are changing?
Some places have been getting cleaner. People are slowly realizing that a cleaner Bali means healthier, happier and more prosperous Balinese. Special baskets for recycling, sponsored by local businesses, were initially emptied once a month, but now many are filled after just a week and more frequent collection is necessary. We have also noticed that people who were first only standing around and watching us clean the beach now join in. Additionally, we now have a lot more participation and involvement of government employees.
What can people do to help?
If there is a Trash Hero chapter in your area, donate an hour of your time to the cause. Monetary donations through Trash Hero World page on Facebook are deeply appreciated. You can also donate gloves, trash bags or trash transportation. If you own or manage a business, you could have your staff join the effort (while they are on the clock please, not on their free time!), as well as sponsor collection baskets.
Does Trash Heroes have any future plans?
Our dream is a facility on Bali to process, in an environmentally responsible way, the plastic we collect into commercially viable products such as plastic pellets for sale in the global marketplace.
Where can one learn more about your organization?
Check out Trash Hero Candidasa’s FaceBook page @TrashHeroCandidasa, email the organizers Budi (head of logistics and Bank Sampah) at email@example.com or Smiley at the local school: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Copyright © 2018 Bill Dalton