Plastics are everywhere
Paradise buried under
8,818,490 tons of plastic
It was New Year’s Eve and my boyfriend and I are so excited to spend this special time surfing on the secluded tropical beach in Bali– This is exactly what we imagined when we left California. After living in Bali for 2 months a local Balinese friend told us about a surfing beach that few foreigners, “bules” as they called us, knew about. We strapped our surfboards on the scooters, threw on a backpack, and headed to this beach on the West side of the island. We were imagining a secluded tropical beach with endless coconuts, turquoise water, and the best waves of our lives! We immediately put our stuff in the new villa and ran down to the beach.
My first thought: What is all the colorful stuff floating in the water? Colorful fish! None of it was fish. It was all plastic. Flip flops, straws, bottles, bags, toys, you name it. The image is forever burned in my mind. It was like looking at a rainbow of plastics covering every inch of the beach, as far as I could see in each direction. We decided to go surfing anyways, what else were we going to do in the middle of nowhere for 3 days? We got in the ocean and were paddling among trash. The feeling I can best describe as swimming in a hot salty soup of trash.
We don’t want to admit that our oceans are in serious trouble. There are 5 million+ tourists that travel to Bali each year, yet you never hear of what the island really looks like. If we keep going at this rate there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. I wish that this was an isolated incident– but from my travels to other countries, it isn’t.
Plastic pollution is a problem in many places in the world, but most countries won’t take responsibility or talk about the issues. All you see on the internet are pictures conveniently framed to crop out any pollution. Ask the local Balinese where the trash is coming from and they say it’s all from the surrounding islands in Indonesia. No one will admit that so much of it is directly coming from Bali. I was there for half a year and saw with my own eyes locals throwing truckloads of plastic trash bags straight into the river, only to be washed down to the ocean.
I am lucky to live in such a beautiful coastal town, where we’ve been at the forefront of the environmental movement. Even so, I pick up pollution left on the beaches on a daily basis– often finding cans, plastic bottles, and toys left behind after a day of enjoying the beach. All I can think about is how I need to protect my home from looking like Bali, India, or Panama. After all, the ocean is a big body of water that is all connected and if we continue on the same path, one day all of our homes will look the same as Bali does. Even though plastic pollution in the ocean is a global problem, we can work together to solve this issue locally by taking personal responsibility for our waste.
The average person simply throws out whatever he or she doesn’t want into a bin, never thinking of where that waste ends up. Best scenario the trash goes to a landfill, which is essentially trash graveyards where no one comes to pay their respects. But every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. That’s 8 trillion kilograms of plastic waste, every single year.
Before it’s too late, we all need to solve this global issue. I invite everyone to pay attention to your local policies waterways, and your own plastic use. Together we can rethink the future of our waste and keep our coastlines beautiful plastic free.
| Written by Fari Hadian @safarifariii | Visuals by Roger Millan Casas @rogermillancasas, Jota Han @jota_han, Justin Hofman @justinhofman, Ganesh Vanare @haram_khor_, Randy Olson @randyolson, Jilson Tiu @jilson.tiu, Nic Mac @_nic.mac_, Cristina Mittermeier @cristinamittermeier, Rich Horner, Plastic Change, National Geographic