A regular contributor to Gaia Discovery, Simon Pridmore presents a stimulating account of the inorganic waste problem in Bali and how a small group of dedicated individuals are making a huge difference by not only raising awareness about the issue but also providing simple, innovative and attractive solutions.
Bali, 20 October 2016: Divers, snorkelers and other visitors to the Amed coast in Karangasem, Northeast Bali have recently been discovering a rare shopping opportunity that comes with a terrific, albeit bitter-sweet, backstory.
Bali has a major non-organic trash problem. We buy products that are manufactured and sold with too much packaging and all the packaging goes out in the trash. There is no official, island-wide, trash collection, disposal and recycling system so much of our trash is discarded indiscriminately by us or by those who collect it from us. It ends up in fields, rivers and streams. Rain washes it into the oceans and then the currents and tides bring some of it back to shore onto our beaches. Most of it remains in the oceans, creating pollution and engorging the stomachs of high food chain marine animals that mistake the trash for food, consume it and die.
We cause this. You and me, we are the source of the trash. Our choices are the problem. Every time you accept a plastic straw for your drink instead of sipping from the glass, you add to the problem. Every time you buy a bottle of water instead of refilling your previous bottle, you add to the problem. Every time you discard a cigarette butt, you add to the problem.
Fortunately, there are people on this island who try to fix the problem we have caused and sometimes they come up with very creative and attractive ways of fixing it.
Peduli Alam, Indonesian for “Protect Nature”, was created in 2008 by Charlotte Fredouille as an non-profit non-governmental organisation (NGO) specialising in waste collection and management in Amed. Among its many activities, the organisation runs awareness campaigns educating people about waste management in schools and villages. Through these programmes, they have reached over 1,000 schoolchildren, many of whom have joined the volunteer teams and now contribute their time and energy to the cause.
Peduli Alam not only raises awareness of the catastrophic results of disposing trash into nature, it also provides simple solutions. Its teams build large trash bins all over the area where people can dump their inorganic trash. So far, they have constructed over 200 of these public bins. They have also supplied individual bins for restaurants, schools and over 700 village families. The teams then collect the trash several times per month, and take it to the local landfill, where any items that can be recycled are sorted out. This service is entirely free of charge.
Since May 2015, Peduli Alam and partner Trash Hero Amed have been organising beach clean ups, recruiting volunteers among tourists, local residents and school children. Trash Hero Amed organises the beach clean-ups and collects the trash. Peduli Alam does everything else. They supply trash bags, sticks, and gloves and then transport the trash to the sorting station for processing.
Peduli Alam keeps part of the trash to transform it into ecobricks, which are plastic bottles stuffed solid with non-organic waste to create reusable building blocks. Ecobricks are used to make modular furniture, walls and even full-size structures.
If you have come this far, expecting to read more about the shopping opportunity referred to in the first paragraph, thank you for your patience. Here it is.
Peduli Alam takes some of the discarded trash to produce beautiful, useable, life and spirit-enhancing objects such as handbags, wallets, tote bags, shopping baskets, trash cans, ashtrays, notice boards and lampshades. It even pays twenty or so rupiah to warungs (a casual shop or a modest Indonesian restaurant) to keep their used plastic sachets for recycling and is always on the lookout for more. Many hotels in the area and local residents also voluntarily save their sachets to support the Peduli Alam effort.
The bags and other end products of this inspiring venture are available at the Peduli Alam shop in Lipah Village. Turn off the Amlapura to Tulamben road at Culik. Then continue through Amed and along the coast, past Jemeluk and Bunutan. You will come to Lipah Bay. Pass Euro Dive on the left (beach side), Le Jardin on the right and Peduli Alam is there on the right hand side of the road, next to Wawawewe 1. Look for the two bright green tyres.
These are wonderful folk doing wonderful things. When you call in at the shop, you may stumble on an impromptu workshop where local children are learning to recycle and create the products themselves.
Buy and help Peduli Alam generate the funds needed to continue the great work they are doing.
The current goals of Peduli Alam are:
- To build and install more bins and extend the range of their trash collection activities.
- Develop similar projects in other rural communities in Bali.
- Produce more bags and give more local people an opportunity to gain an income from being involved in the production process.
- Encourage more people to clean the beaches, rivers and the general environment in northeast Bali.
How can you contact Peduli Alam?
You can reach Peduli Alam by any of these ways:
At the office: Jalan Bangle, Dusun Bangle, Desa Bunutan – Amed, Karangasem: or at the new shop at Jalan Raya, Lipah Village, next to Wawawewe 1.
By phone: + 62 87 761 562 511 (English); +62 81 916 260 066 (Bahasa Indonesia)
Related articles on Gaia Discovery:
Gary Bencheghib of "Make a Change Bali": Beach Clean-ups Through Personal Conviction, Environmental Responsiility - http://www.gaiadiscovery.com/latest-people/gary-bencheghib-of-make-a-change-bali-beach-clean-ups-throug.html
More from the author, Simon Pridmore:
Author of Scuba Fundamental - Start Diving the Right Way: http://www.simonpridmore.com/
2017 Sulawesi Bonanza: http://www.guammicronesiadivetravel.com/travelblog1/dive-trips/2017-sulawesi-bonanza/
Simon@Sofie's Travel: https://sandstouchtravel.shutterfly.com/