Leading by Example. Bali and the Plastic Problem.

Many tourists come to Bali and notice the problem of rubbish, particularly plastic. Not many of us are ready to admit that we are part of the problem. Up to the 1970s, the Balinese used banana leaves and other natural products as plates, containers, and wrapping. Most discarded waste was biodegradable, such as palm leaves, coconut shells and other fibrous matter which were composted or burnt. Mass tourism, rapid urbanisation, the rise of the plastic industry and consumerism have seen the rubbish problem explode. Tourists demand drinking water in plastic bottles: most don’t carry their own shopping bags but readily accept plastic to carry their ‘bounty’ back to guest houses, little realising that plastic litter from hotel waste bins will be burnt, exuding noxious gasses into the environment or will be dumped illegally as 75% of rubbish is not collected by any service.


You could complain or you could become part of the solution. Sitting down over lunch today, I saw a vision of loveliness as a beautiful young Dutch woman began to clean plastic debris from the sea. She asked the owners of the warung why they only cleaned the area in front of their own business and not the sea. Like most Indonesians, they only see what is theirs, which they maintain very well through cleaning and raking daily. Anything beyond the perimeter of their own house or business is someone else’s problem.

Rather than sun baking all day on her sun lounge, she took matters into her own hands and, with found plastic bags, collected debris from the sea. Imagine if every tourist could fill two plastic bags a day?  Leading by example is a much better teacher than pointing the finger.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

26 thoughts on “Leading by Example. Bali and the Plastic Problem.”

  1. I agree with all of this. If only the Indonesians and tourists could be educated to fill 2 plastic bags per day the problem would go away. And if only they could go back to serving food in banana leaves!


    1. They still serve food this way in may smaller warangs. But, like all Western countries, they have a waste disposal problem. they live in the world of plastic too. Tourists who happily use their ‘green bags’ to shop at home forget to do so when travelling abroad.


      1. I say just ban the plastic bag and plastic plates too. People would soon not forget to bring their bags to the store. And by the way, stores shouldn’t sell bags at the counter either.


        1. no, but have you noticed how many people carry their green bags to the supermarket, then collect heaps of little plastic bags on their march around the fruit and veggies? A bit odd, a green bag full of mini plastic bags. Odd.


    1. I know! She is the perfect poster girl for a serious subject! I did ask her if I may put the photos on the blog and she was keen to promote the issue. And it is very hot here. Like seeing an environmental goddess!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s not just Bali with a plastic problem, it is appalling in India. More people should walk the walk like your Dutch tourist. Despite the awareness I am still greeted with disbelief when I refuse plastic. My green mesh bags for green groceries get loads of comments


    1. I have also seen this problem elsewhere, especially in India. I thought I might highlight the issue here in Bali because so many tourists complain about plastic and rubbish yet don’t change their own behaviour. They also think it’s someone else’s problem. Over 3 million tourists visit this small island annually so they are also part of the problem and need to be part of the solution.
      Bring back string bags! I can picture you,Madame Sandra, with yours.


  3. Like so many things that we fail as a society to notice, the issue will probably need to become trendy for us to attend to it. So it’s nice to see someone doing their thing without fanfare.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I often pick up rubbish on my morning walks, and it is IN FRONT of people’s houses. I wonder why they don’t see it or do it themselves. It is very nice seeing someone do something so useful on her own. Bound to be some good Karma in that one!! Thanks for the inspiring store, Francesca.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My cottage is on a beautiful stretch of public beach. Every day when we go walking we bring a plastic bag and pick up garbage that we find. Luckily we don’t find too much but it really irks me that smokers don’t consider cigarette butts garbage.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How wonderful. the world needs more people like her. so many dolphins, whales, turtles and other sea creatures are dying in pain because of human kind’s thoughtlessness.

    thank you for the reminder – we all have to do better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some days later, I met this remarkable woman again and she was organising a letter drop to a few tourist hotels to do a large scale clean up of the sea. Three cheers for her!!!!


  7. Hi Francesca, I would like to come in contact with you can you please send me an email to my hotmail account: larisa0160
    Thank you! Best wishes, Larisa (plastic girl from bali)

    Liked by 1 person

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