It’s not what you think, I promise. What I did was spear trash and recycle it in rural Bali.
I am currently working in Bali Indonesia on a special project with an Australian colleague Brett Casson and a few other people, and not on a vacation unfortunately. We are working extremely long days on a tight timeline in the heat and on Saturday we took a break to meet the amazing and energetic designer John Hardy at Bambu Indah for his famous Trash Walk project as well as his daughter’s Sampah Jujur “Spear Garbage Talk Trash” (https://www.facebook.com/speargarbagetalktrash/) so we could do some non-work related good things while here, and learn something.I guess I could have just darted off to the beach and relaxed but this was a great way to learn about Bali, meet amazing people, get some good exercise, see areas tourists don’t see,and do something good.
It was absolutely amazing walking the rural Bali area and gathering trash, seriously. Bali like many places in the world is suffering from a man caused problem of pollution and waste. Here in Bali there is no trash service so much of it gets dumped or disposed of in various places or burned along the streets choking plastic smoke and all and even a few aerosol cans to add to the excitement when they blow up. It’s a very complicated problem and I am not going to get into all the details nor am I knowledgeable enough to place any blame but it is apparent there is a big problem and I did a very little part and will be ever mindful of my waste and plastic negative impact on our planet.
Some images of the trash spearing expedition as we walked, talked, all while sporting our stylish recycled trash gathering bags and homemade trash spears.
Brett Casson of Autodesk, John Hardy, and Me - Shaan Hurley of Autodesk doing our small part.
John Hardy has found that by showing an example of locally cleaning trash each week and also by offering to purchase recyclables it can slowly change the problem. It is of far too easy to just dumping garbage in canals or the forest or even catching hotels that should know better that dump and burn the trash piles. SE Asia is already under a serious smoke pollution problem of deforestation fires but also here in Indonesia the burning of garbage is really bad and at times it is really hard to breath or even see the sun at times.
Here is the Sampah Jujur sign with prices for garbage. They have even started purchasing the garbage in the local schools. Much of the plastic is going into something better. They can use the collected and purchased plastic to make plastic shipping pallets which cease the needless waste for tropical hardwoods which don’t last long. The recycled plastic pallets are manufactured here in Bali by Enviro Pallets.
We need to all reduce and remove plastics and multi materials that cannot be reasonably recycled from our usage and Earth. While plastics in our markets are prolific and cheap and we are given so many plastic bags for our convenience we must stop.
On the trash walk I met Emily Penn and got to know more about her and how she heard and why she showed up at the trash walk while we speared garbage along trails, in the river, and along house walls. Emily is a trained architect and after graduating Cambridge she decided to take a architecture job in Australia and decided to sail there from the UK. During the course of that long voyage Emily changed her course in life and now sails the seas and researches plastics impact on our planet and the ocean and operates Pangaea Explorations. She is absolutely fascinating, humble, and a wealth of knowledge on the impact of plastics to the environment. She has a really intersting background, but even more topical is when she discussed how most of the plastic in the ocean is not visible as it is broken down on wave action and more into small fragments under the surface and found all over the ocean when taking samples and even high concentrations in all the caught fish. I seen the fresh videos and photos from Lombok and Gili Islands, and was truly shocked by what was flowing out to the ocean and reefs. There were even people paid to push the clogged plastic out to sea with long poles. There is no invention yet that can gather the plastic at sea without causing other problems as you cant yet separate the plastic from small oceanic life out there. Nothing will magically mine the plastic into fuel or magically make it go away yet. Another issue is the micro plastics which are even worse and in toothpastes and skin cleaners and go through all filters and go to the sea and never breakdown and continue to show up in more and more places and cause really bad things in the environment and health of animals and humans. We just talked about plastic and a common phrase from the Aussies was “plastic sucks ….”
Bali is still an amazing tropical paradise, but has some issues as do all places around the world and a common enemy is clearly plastic. I can’t tell you the numbers of plastic store bags, plastic bottles and wrappers I speared Saturday but it was a full bag and enough to convince me that II was not making a big dent in the enormous amount. But if everyone chipped in cleaning up waste when they seen it and also reduced their day to day dependence on plastic this problem would start to go away and none too soon.
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No effort is too small and we were happy to participate and would encourage anyone visiting Bali to consider the trash spearing with John.