It’s only one straw…………said 9 million people!!

Plastic pollution Bali…..

12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in our oceans every year.

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It is a frightening statistic, but even more frightening, is the fact that one million seabirds and just over 100,000  marine animals including whales, turtles, dolphins and sea lions die each year from plastic pollution and that statistic is steadily climbing.

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Something heartbreakingly difficult to witness yet which is a common sight in Bali, is to see the beaches and surrounding oceans littered with plastics.

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Lazy grubby tourists are some of the worst offenders yet without a plan or the infrastructure in place to deal with this ever growing problem, Bali and its very fragile ecosystem will suffocate under plastic waste.

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Drowning under plastic waste!  We should be so ashamed……

Paradise is being lost under a mountain of rubbish with single use plastics – the most used yet least recycled product on the planet – the biggest contributor.

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It is a sad fact but nearly all of the ‘not so fantastic plastic’ ever created still exists today in some form or another even though some of it was produced almost 70 years ago.

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I hate to preach but I love my oceans and my planet and both are under extreme pressure and totally dependent on us to cut down on our use of plastics.  

There are hundreds of ways to start, some extreme and some not so extreme, but taking even the smallest of steps will lead to a cleaner environment.  Things as simple as:

  • Refusing a plastic straw.
  • Refusing single use plastic bags and utilising reusable bags.
  • Making compost – great for your garden and it reduces landfill. 
  • Avoiding extra plastic packaging on fruit and vegetables and take your own bags for bulk items.
  • Purchasing a reusable water bottle and keep-cup.
  • Sorting your recyclables into glass/plastic/metal/paper.
  • And my absolute favourite……buying and donating pre-loved clothing. 

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Australians alone use 1 billion disposable coffee cups per year with around 2,700,000 paper cups being thrown out every day…..

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You can also be a kinder and more responsible traveller:    

  • DON’T LITTER…….anywhere on the earth!
  • Take your keep-cup and reusable water bottle, your eco-friendly or reusable stainless straw, your bamboo or stainless spork.  They take up little to no room in your luggage.
  • Take reusable bags.
  • Reduce your waste by simply refusing the tiny toiletries in hotel rooms – always take your own.

The state of the planet is our fault entirely and although at times the scale of the challenges our planet and oceans face seem overwhelming and distressing, I truly believe we can all make a difference.   

The oceans and planet don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste to perfection and shaming everyone else.  What they need is 9 million people doing their imperfect best in recycling and cutting down on their use of plastics. 

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Protecting our oceans and planet is everyone’s responsibility. 

  • Be educated and informed.
  • Be political but use your voice constructively.
  • Volunteer for your planet through your local community – clean up days, growing native trees, regenerating bush land and sand dunes, becoming part of a food rescue charity and……
  • refuse that single use plastic straw.

The planet and our oceans will thank you 🙂 

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‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  Its not’  –  The Lorax, Dr Seuss.

Footnote – photos of plastic pollution taken at Jimbaran, Kuta and Seminyak in Bali 2020.

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Since drafting this post, South Australia has once again made history by becoming the first state in Australia to ban single use plastics.

Now I love this very progressive and beautiful state and I am so proud (and privileged) to call South Australia home.  SA has always led the way with a proactive approach to introducing laws to protect the environment.  It was the first state in the nation to establish ‘the container deposit scheme’ way back in 1977 and it is also the state which banned the use of plastic bags as far back as 2009.

 

Bali Ha’i may call you. Any night, any day. In your heart, you’ll hear it call you “come away, come away”…….

Bali was heat, tropical forests, lotus flowers and the most expensive coffee on earth.  It was eating Bebek Bengil, char-smoked satays and Mangosteens with skins coloured a  deep royal purple.  It was dive boat rides, every shade of green imaginable, volcanoes, muddy roads, offerings and gods.

There were days where my hair knotted and curled with salt because I didn’t leave the ocean from sun up to sun set.  On these days, I just let things go.  Things which can suffocate or fell your soul slowly begin their unfurling in the way they should when you give way to it.  Late afternoons were made for uncomplicated cocktails and watching thunderheads build then explode leaving rain puddles big enough to swim in.

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When out on my wanderings, I photographed temples and tiny street cats.  There are always cats to be photographed.  I visited markets, labyrinths of small shop spaces crammed into dark narrow lane-ways, all strangely quiet.  Most of the goods were out-dated and dust covered.  On one occasion, I came away with a kite and two beautiful hand-printed batik sarongs.  Another day, natural soaps scented with fragrant champaka.

I walked along the beaches of Nusa Dua, finding shells and tiny pieces of broken coral and watched local fishermen cast their nets.  All of these days were good and they were enough.  They were more than enough. They were everything………

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Not everything I experienced in Bali was of beauty.  Kuta for example, Bali’s most notorious hotspot, will eat you alive if you let it.  It is not a pretty place but it is by no means dull with its noise, grime and endless strips of cheap bars and nightclubs.  Kuta’s often congested streets are filled with a frenetic joyless tide of aggressive hawkers, touts and the ‘very ugly tourist’. Here it seems, the gentle Balinese culture barely hangs on by a thread.

We headed to Kuta one afternoon.  My husband had wanted to return to see how much change there was in the absence of 26 years.  He also likes Kuta where I do not but it is a fascinating place to ‘people watch’.  While there, a young backpacking Brit said to me ‘man, Kuta has the best beach ever‘ (huge emphasis on ever).  He was drunk or stoned or possibly both.  I fear he was living the last gasp of all that had been promised him by his travel agent for this is Kuta Surf Beach…….

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2020 and people still boast this is the best beach in Bali!  What despicable things as humans we have done to this planet!

We had beers at a bar on Legian Street.  Weary from the constant harassment of touts, I happily watched a fearless mouse expertly navigate his way around the bar before I took a walk across the road to the Bali Memorial.

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This deeply moving site, an intricately carved stone monument, is built on the site of the destroyed Paddy’s Pub and is across from the site where the once famous Sari Club sat.  In 2002, terrorists detonated three bombs in the heart of Kuta killing 202 people, including 88 Australians, with a further 209 people being seriously injured.

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This very graceful memorial site, with its huge marble plaque bearing the names and nationalities of those killed and its delicate water feature, is clean and well maintained.  Flood-lit at night, I found it to be a simple yet beautiful dedication.

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Kuta is what it is and that will never change.  It slowly recovered from the bombings not wiser but definitely a little stronger so I cannot help but wonder where it is headed.  No doubt it has a sense of belonging which is significant and necessary to the economy of Bali, suffering so badly in this pandemic, and it certainly would not be the place it is had it not lived the very big and colourful life it has……..

 

Blog title:  Lyrics from Bali Ha’i – South Pacific – by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

More Bali to come…….