What you don't see on Instagram

Bali:

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Bali Spots (not) on Instagram

Bali:

What you don't see on Instagram

When you look at the best instagram spots in Bali you might see beautiful cliffs overlooking white sand beaches, teal water, girls in bikinis, and sunsets over rice fields. The truth is, Bali has some beautiful spots but there is another side that you don't see on social media. That side is the horrendous amount of trash and plastic everywhere.

Now don't get me wrong, the island definitely has its natural beauty, but we were certainly shocked to see first hand the impact of human negligence. All the water near Canggu was so polluted that you couldn't even get in the water without being covered in plastic bags.

Now don't get me wrong, the island definitely has its natural beauty, but we were certainly shocked to see first hand the impact of human negligence. All the water near Canggu was so polluted that you couldn't even get in the water without being covered in plastic bags.

Ok, so enough with the negativity, the real question is what are you going to do about it? Well, for starters a change of mindset is needed. Be conscious of what you buy. Do you really need that plastic bag? What about that straw in your drink? Do you need that styrofoam container to carry your food? Here we will talk about what we experienced during our time in Bali, what we did to minimize our impact, and what can be done to be a part of the solution.

The Reality of Overconsumption

If you're looking for the best instagram spots in Bali during your holiday you might just wind up disappointed. Upon going to these spots, you'll most likely find quite a lot of trash that aren't in any of the photos you've seen. It's kind of sad that people turn a blind eye to this on social media to mask the problem, and don't give a second thought to how much single use plastic waste they produce in a given day.

If you take some time to really observe how much plastic is used in every day life, it's a staggering amount. Nearly all food products you buy are packaged in some kind of plastic bag or box. When you check out at the grocery store, all your food goes into a plastic bag.

Trash Hero Gili Air
The side of Bali not on Instagram: Trash on the beaches
eco friendly bali travel itinerary
Trash Hero Gili Air
Trash Hero Gili Air
GOPR4181 - 540 4x5

Fortunately, stores in Bali charge you a tax for every plastic bag you use. But from our experience, its not always enforced and they are pretty willing to just hand out plastic bags. Other places we've been, like Buenos Aires, force you to buy a reusable bag or bring your own. However, you can't just blame locals for the overconsumption of plastic.

Traditionally, the local Balinese people use organic matter that left behind no waste. The shift of mass tourism to Bali introduced the island to the western obsession with plastics. With solid waste exceeding 240 tons per day, waste management tactics have resorted to burning plastic in order to make room for more[1]. This has extremely harmful consequences like releasing green house gases into the atmosphere or causing serious health problems for those breathing in the fumes.

Trash Hero Gili Air
The side of Bali not on Instagram: Trash on the beaches
eco friendly bali travel itinerary
Trash Hero Gili Air
Trash Hero Gili Air
GOPR4181 - 540 4x5

Fortunately, stores in Bali charge you a tax for every plastic bag you use. But from our experience, its not always enforced and they are pretty willing to just hand out plastic bags. Other places we've been, like Buenos Aires, force you to buy a reusable bag or bring your own. However, you can't just blame locals for the overconsumption of plastic.

Traditionally, the local Balinese people use organic matter that left behind no waste. The shift of mass tourism to Bali introduced the island to the western obsession with plastics. With solid waste exceeding 240 tons per day, waste management tactics have resorted to burning plastic in order to make room for more[1]. This has extremely harmful consequences like releasing green house gases into the atmosphere or causing serious health problems for those breathing in the fumes.

Reducing Overconsumption

When we first arrived to Asia in Singapore, we quickly took notice of all the single use plastic. Though, it's certainly not the only country with this problem. Bali, Indonesia also faces the challenge of waste management due to high tourism traffic and the inherent limitations that come from being an island.

Bring Your Own Reusables

It may not seem like much, but each plastic straw or bag you don't use counts as a win. To cut down on single use plastic waste here are a few tips when ordering food/drink:

Straws
  • Purchase a metal or reusable plastic straw to bring out with you.
  • Ask for no straw with every drink order, even cans of soda or bottles of water.
Water Bottles
  • Bring along a reusable water bottle.
  • A Lifestraw bottle can provide clean drinking water from virtually any source.
Utensils
  • Bring your own reusable utensils out with you to avoid single use items.
  • We bring a couple spork/knife combo utensils by Light My Fire.
Bags
  • Bring a reusable bag with you to carry items.
  • Be sure to ask for no bag, or no extra bag with your food items if you forget to bring a reusable one.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

 

The saying Reduce, Reuse, Recycle goes a long way. Buy a reusable straw to bring with you and ask for no straw in every drink order which includes bottled or canned water and soda. Hold onto that bottle or can until you see a recycling bin. If you get a plastic bag at the store, save it and reuse it for something else.

Recycling also doesn't only have to be about plastics, cans, paper, and bottles. You can also recycle your old clothing items. We found this donation box on Gili Air Island that accepts used clothes, books, bags, swimsuits, shorts, and shoes. We thought that was a great idea because it's a great opportunity for people with heavy packs (like us) to get rid of some extra things that aren't essential while knowing that it's not going to waste.

Eco Friendly Traveling Bali
Eco Friendly Traveling Bali

Travel Responsibly

Traveling brings us a lot of joy with seeing new places, learning new things, meeting new people. However, our main purpose for traveling is to do it responsibly. This means minimizing our impact on the environment so the natural beauty is preserved for others to enjoy after we are gone. Sometimes eco-friendly traveling isn't always the easiest option, but it really shouldn't be all about what's easiest and most convenient for you.

For example, you bring your lunch to the beach, maybe you bring a couple beers too. But after you're done eating you realize there's no trash can around. What do you do? Unfortunately some people feel as though it's fine to just leave it behind on the beach because obviously somebody will come pick it up right? Wrong. Always pack out your trash with you.

GOPR4372 - 720 4x5
GOPR5815 - 720 4x5__2

Maybe you're taking a hike, nature is calling, and you need to drop a #2 somewhere. Please, for the love of God, don't leave your toilet paper behind on or in the ground. It sounds gross but you really should pack it out with you in a bag. Toilet paper really doesn't biodegrade as fast as you'd think. Above are some of the average number of years it takes for certain trash products to break down.

Pro Tip: If you go to one of the best instagram spots in Bali, it would be worth bringing a trash bag to take out some of the loose garbage and properly dispose of it.

Be a part of the Solution

If you're feeling bad reading this, don't worry too much, there is still some good that can be done. While you're traveling and noticing excess trash or plastic thrown around then why not do something about it? That's exactly what we thought during our time in Bali. Fortunately, we found out about a few organizations that lead clean ups around the islands. There were plenty of locals, mostly children, that care about the state of their island and were more than enthusiastic to clean it up.

Trash Hero is an amazing international organization that focuses their work in Southeast Asia. We were fortunate enough to get connected with the Trash Hero Gili Air Chapter while we were there and did a cleanup with them one afternoon. Read more about our Trash Hero experience and how to get involved here. We loved it so much that we did a cleanup with another local dive shop the following day.

The cleanups are super easy and fun and last about 45 minutes, or until all of the bags are full. They provide bags and gloves for each volunteer that shows up. At our first cleanup, the entire group of about 20 people collected 240 Kg (530 lbs) in under and hour! Afterwards free refreshments are provided, either beer (if you're old enough) or orange juice, and you can socialize a bit with the rest of the volunteers. It was a great experience and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to make a small difference.

After seeing all of the plastic wrappers, clear ones in particular, we realized how much of a danger it is to sea-life. These things can easily be mistaken for food and ingested by an unsuspecting animal.

The experience made us think about what food products we buy at the store and how we can make an effort to reduce our single use consumption. Even though most people properly dispose of their garbage in bins, you still never know where it's ultimately going to end up. Boats carry the trash off the islands and if a bag goes overboard, then that's going to drop a whole lot of plastic back into the water.

See how this fits into our Eco Friendly Bali Itinerary
See how this fits into our Eco Friendly Bali Itinerary

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By |2019-05-15T04:48:22-04:00December 22nd, 2018|Asia, Bali, Indonesia|0 Comments

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