Why (Plastic) Pollution Should Not Stop You From Surfing in Bali

Everyone who knows what surfing is about, knows that is inevitably interconnected with the environment. When you go surfing you will spend much time in and besides the ocean, preferably on a tropical island.

People who have already been surfing in Bali, may have noticed that the coastline is not always as clean as you would have imagined it to be. You might find rubbish on the beaches.

A lot of famous surfers, like for example Kelly Slater, have also observed this, and try to raise awareness about the (plastic) pollution problem in Bali.

So the question is, should this issue stop you from travelling to and going surfing in Bali?

(Plastic) pollution in Bali

It can’t be denied that there is a pollution problem in Bali. There is trash in the ocean, on the beaches and in the rivers, especially after heavy rainfall.  A familiar sight are the piles of rubbish, either burnt or yet to burned.

Pollution in Bali | Pelan Pelan Bali
Pollution in Bali | Pelan Pelan Bali

Does this mean that the local people don’t care about the environment?

Definitely not. The pollution problem goes together with the globalization and the quick uchanging way of consumption. A few decades ago almost all the wrappings in Bali were made of organic materials, like banana leaves, coconut shells, bamboo and so on. This products used to rot away naturally in the sun. The organic trash was deposited at specified places in the village or thrown in the river, and it would decompose naturally, and even enrich the land. The locals don’t always realise that it’s really different with the new packings, like plastic and Styrofoam. They are not aware off the damage it does to nature and animals.

Threat to the ecosystem

This pollution is definitely threatening the ecosystem. Especially plastic waste does a lot of damage to the environment, since it is not biodegradable. This means it takes a really long time before it breaks down and it releases toxic substances into nature for this whole period of time.

Microplastic not only contaminates the environment, but also the water, air and wildlife. Because it is being eaten by animals, infiltrates the ground water and therefore also the fields, trees and plants, we also consume it.

So if you need some extra motivation to protect our nature, think about the fact that this is also a way to take care of your own health and well-being.

Biological Degradation of Plastic | Pelan Pelan Bali
Biological Degradation of Plastic | Pelan Pelan Bali

Is the Balinese government aware of this problem?

The Balinese government has declared that they recognize the problem and is taking plenty of measures to do something about it.

This is how the government is taking action:

– Officials in Bali have declared a “garbage emergency” across a 6 km stretch of coast in December 2017. They deployed cleaners and trucks to remove tons of rubbish every day to a nearby landfill.

– Indonesia launched a national action plan, and pledged to reduce ocean waste by 70 % by 2025.

– They inducted a ban on single-use plastic (straws, shopping bags, Styrofoam etcetera). This ban was introduced on the 21st December of 2018, and there is a six months grace period. By the end of this time period single use plastic has to be replaced by alternative materials. The government will work with penalties for producers, distributors and suppliers  who don’t live by the rules. They can for example lose their business permit.

– Bali plans to boost recycling services, organise clean-ups and educate the local people about waste management.

– There are plans to introduce a $ 10 tourist tax for overseas visitors to help tackle (plastic) pollution and improve the waste management in Bali, but this hasn’t come through yet.

What we do at Pelan Pelan to tackle the problem

We, at our surf and yoga retreat Pelan Pelan Bali, like many other people, are going far and beyond to redress the waste problem.

Here’s a list of things we do at our retreat to maintain our precious island:

– We sort our waste and work together with Eco Bali to pick up our garbage.

Eco Bali is a company that promotes responsible waste management, creates green knowledge and eco products. They are striving for a zero waste management, just like us.

Pelan Pelan Bali Waste Management | Pelan Pelan Bali
Pelan Pelan Bali Waste Management | Pelan Pelan Bali

– We educate and train our staff about waste management, and motivate them to share their knowledge with their friends and family.

– We use bamboo straws instead of plastic ones.

– We serve vegetarian and vegan food (on request).

– We use sustainable bags when shopping at the local market, and don’t use any plastic bags.

– We are also asking the restaurants who do food delivery at our surf camp and the people who pick up the laundry not to use or bring any plastic bags. Because of that reason we use cotton bags to collect your laundry.

– We compost organic waste.

– We use water dispensers with large water bottles for drinking water and for the food preparations.

– We sell refillable Pelan Pelan water bottles at a small price. This bottle is not only useful here, but it is also a sustainable souvenir to take back home.

– We ask our guests to switch off the air-conditioning and turn off the lights when they leave their room.

– We wash beach- and bathroom-towels on request. If you want fresh ones you can put them on the floor and we will change them. If you want to use them again just put them on the rack or shelves and we will not put them in the laundry.

– We wash the sheets two times a week and not every day, unless you would request otherwise.

– We don’t throw away any food. Our staff can eat it at our retreat or take it home to share it with their family.

– We give the leftovers from the guests’ plates to our three lovely dogs, Angel, Tyson and Cooper, who are also part of our Pelan Pelan family.

Angel, Tyson and Cooper | Pelan Pelan Bali
Angel, Tyson and Cooper | Pelan Pelan Bali

These are little steps to start with. Together they are all small efforts which, if everybody would make them, will help the environment improve massively.

What can you do?

You might be wondering if there are things that you can do to combat the (plastic) pollution problem, and if this would make any difference. We guarantee you: you can and it will!

Below you can find some of our tips and suggestions on how to reduce your waste footprint:

– Don’t use plastic bags but use reusable or recycled ones.

– Be more conscious which products you buy, preferably ones that are not wrapped in plastic.

– Join one of the many beach clean-ups. Try choosing the ones that do proper waste management, and not the ones who burn the trash later.

– Pick up waste yourself if you see it when you go to the beach or walk on the street.

– Raise awareness about the problem and possible solutions with local people, without being disrespectful.

– Donate to one of the many environmental organisations.

– Buy products made from sustainable materials.

– Don’t use chemical insect repellents or sunscreen but look for the natural alternatives.

You should not only use these tips while travelling, but should also implement them in your daily life once you get back home.

Conclusion | Pelan Pelan Bali
Conclusion | Pelan Pelan Bali

And now, the answer to our question, should the pollution issue stop you from travelling to and going surfing in Bali?

The answer is definitely NOT, to the contrary! The many efforts the government, locals, environmental organisations and visitors are taking should inspire you to come and do the same. If we all work together we should be able to make Bali cleaner in a short period of time.

Apart from that, Bali is still absolutely worth a visit currently. It has so many beautiful beaches, coral reefs, palm trees, volcanos and rice fields. The rich culture makes the surroundings even more magical, with ancient temples on every street corner, and the wonderful ceremonies you can witness every day.

But most of all, Bali is still a paradise for surfing, and a mecca for yoga.

So do not hesitate to join us at our beautiful surf and yoga retreat Pelan Pelan Bali, and help us make this island an even more amazing place to visit, for many more years and generations to come.

Surf and Yoga Retreat Canggu Bali | Pelan Pelan Bali
Surf and Yoga Retreat Canggu Bali | Pelan Pelan Bali
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