Following a few days in Seminyak, we transferred to a hotel in Nusa Dua about half an hour to the south east. It was one of a cluster of resort hotels and was located right on the beach in a beautiful, peaceful spot.
So imagine my disappointment, when strolling to the beach, I was confronted by plastic waste dotted along the shoreline; plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic straws, food sachets, shoes, beer bottles – you name it, it was there.
Two hotel staff were raking up dead coral and seaweed which they buried into pre-dug holes. The plastic rubbish was collected in large plastic sacks, I’m not sure of its destination beyond the hotel’s waste management system. I realised then, that this was a daily ritual for the hotel staff – how distressing for them to have to do this – every day.
On researching for this post, I now realise that the washed up rubbish I witnessed was only a tiny fraction compared to the ‘Garbage Emergency’ declared in late 2017. During the monsoon season (December to March) seasonal winds had forced thousands of tonnes of plastic onto the beaches – not only from Bali but other islands in the archipelago, such as Java and Sumatra.
Bali sits in one of the world’s most polluted areas of sea and Indonesia is one of the world’s major contributors of ocean waste, being the source of around 10 percent of it. With a lack of awareness, limited rubbish bins and hardly any waste separation, it is not surprising.
50 governments have signed up to the UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign, which aims to clean up the world’s oceans. As part of its commitment, the Indonesian government has pledged to reduce marine plastic waste by 70 per cent by 2025. It has been well over a year since Indonesia signed up to the campaign and there was little evidence of change – there is clearly a lot of work to be done.
I blinked away the tears which had unexpectedly surfaced and wandered on. I came across a gas cylinder which had clearly been in the sea for a long time given the state of it. I picked it up and moved it to the top of the beach where I hoped one of the beach sweepers would notice it.
Some distance from the shoreline the locals were fishing. There was a highway of jet-skis speeding passed them and I wondered how this disturbance affected their plastic polluted catch.
By now, you probably have a grim view of Bali as a holiday destination but I have merely highlighted a sad fact which is the result of mass tourism on a poor country, whose people have little regard and a lack of awareness of the damage their love of plastic is having on the world.
Nevertheless, Bali is a beautiful island and although we only experienced one tiny little pocket there are still plenty of off-the-beaten track areas still to explore – until next time.