Indonesia – and even the whole world – is polluted with dumping places and burning pits. Just outside Sanur, a province in Bali, is a huge dumping place that is connected to to the ocean and pollutes everything around it. When I drive on the main road with the motorbike, it makes me want to throw up because it smells so bad. There is also a cable park where you wake board right behind it. I used to be a member there and went pretty much every weekend until the day I got sick from swallowing the water. Even though they clean the water, the neighboring dumping place is one of the biggest and most disgusting one in Bali. This is a huge problem: where to put our trash. We could burn it, bury it, put it in one place, or dump it into the ocean where it is lost forever till it lands on your plate.
Throwing away trash is easy and most of the time we don’t think about it. In a way, it’s something that we don’t want to think about. It is an issue that does not worry a lot of people, as they have systems that take care of it. However, in a lot of communities like mine, the system of recycling trash and transforming it into a product is not easy, and not exercised very well.
On the 24th of August, we learned through a local hero that the current system of trash collecting in Sibang Kaja, the neighbourhood where I have been attending school for five years, could potentially be doing more harm then good. Her work in the area has been focused on changing these systems, and we learned how targeting the root of the problem is a great way to make lasting change.
Ibu Pauline is a mother at the Green School who lives in the area. She does frequent trash walks and clean-ups with the local people and tourists. She also runs the Kembali trash sorting and deposit place on the campus of Green School. Like us, Pauline wants to stop the mass crisis in Bali: plastic pollution.
Pauline took us on a walk and we admired the beauty that is hidden behind and around Green School. Sadly, there was a lot of trash on the sides of the roads. Along the way, we passed a small dumping place. She told us that this trash dump used to be a lot worse, that the trucks that unloaded the trash used to just dump it carelessly and that a large amount fell into the river and just flowed back into the villages. As we went on, we followed a small path down into the valley where you could feel how sacred the place was. She said that sometimes when it rains the whole valley is full of trash and smells so bad that you really would not like to go down there. Nowadays this kind of thing does not happen anymore. This is because they added a fence to secure the area which stops the trash from falling in the river.
I believe that Pauline motivates the local people to be more aware of trash by educating and inspiring them to work towards a cleaner river. With more people like her and the right education, we could definitely make this island so much more sacred and beautiful. Knowledge is power and if you want to tackle a problem this big you have to know a huge amount about it.
An out standing solution to the issue of plastic pollution is to up-cycle – just like what we did in Lombok with Ibu Aisha, last week when we turned plastic packages into bracelets. It is an interesting solution but it is very time-consuming and it is not a very popular practice at the moment. Other companies have different approaches, like Indosole who takes old tires and makes them into shoes. There are very few groups and companies that really change this world, but even if it does not seem as much, it gives a huge impact on this world. Up-cycling trash is an amazing idea though it is hard work it is one solution that children and adults can do, it is a whole new category of art. People can make money off it and the rough truth is that we have to get rid of it before it gets rid of us. Plastic is extremely poisonous and is one of the top polluters of this area, it is so hard to get rid of it as well. People out there are working on it, people fight for it on a daily basis, also a lot of people do not. Most of them probably do know that it is a problem, but just do not have the time, nor the interest in it. The ones that do find this interest are in some way noticed heroes that save all of our arses.
To just know of these heroes is not enough. Taking action can be as simple as reducing your own personal waste, or you can be even more involved in your trash cycle…going on trash walks and questioning what happens to your garbage when thrown away. The more interest people put into this and being schooled in this issue would make it easier to defeat. There are a few ways to educate people about the trash crisis. One idea that works well is to integrate the education of trash into the school systems that already exist or to do workshops of alternative methods of how to up-cycle trash.
Changing the world starts by changing our own habits. Ibu Pauline puts free time and her own personal power into this issue. We thank her for what she is doing and I hope that more people can get inspirited from her, as much as we did. Even if it is visiting your local trash place and helping out there, or trying not to create a huge amount of trash.