A girl’s story about surfing in a Balinese paradise with 8,818,490 tons of plastic.
Plastics are everywhere
Surfing in a Balinese paradise with 8,818,490 tons of plastic.
It was New Year’s Eve and I was leaving to surf on the secluded tropical beaches in Bali. This is exactly what I 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 the West side of the island. I imagined a secluded tropical beach with endless coconuts, turquoise water, and the best waves of our lives! We immediately ran down to the beach.
My first thought: What is all the colorful fish 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 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 everything you can imagine. I can best describe it as swimming in a hot, salty, soup of floating trash.
We need to admit our oceans are in serious trouble. There are 5 million+ tourists that travel to Bali each year, yet you never hear of what the other side of 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.
Plastic pollution is a problem in many places in the world, but most countries won’t take responsibility and 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 can admit that it is coming from the local people. I was there for half a year and saw with my own eyes locals throwing truckloads of plastic bags into the river, to be washed down to the ocean.
I am so 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 we need to protect our local communities. Plastic pollution in the ocean is a global problem, but we can work together to solve this issue locally by taking personal responsibility for our waste.
We all simply throw out whatever we don’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. Unfortunately, every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic escape the peaceful landfill and end up in our oceans. That’s 8 trillion kilograms of plastic waste every year. 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 and 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