Destinations

Bali’s filthy ‘garbage emergency’

Daisy Doctor

If we had a dollar for every time we wrote a story about Bali, we’d probably buy flights to Bali.

Bali’s tourist-haven reputation has continued to grow since the Indonesian island was thrust onto the tourism map in the early 20th century.

A regular holiday hotspot for most Australians, Bali’s economy is now driven by tourism, but at what cost?

As the number of visitors continues to flourish, so do the negative impacts on the environment.

Now, many news sites are reporting a “garbage emergency” on the island and extending into greater Indonesia.

In early December 2017, the local government declared a “trash emergency” on Kuta and Legian beaches.

The garbage over this summer holiday period is of course only exacerbated by the country’s monsoon season, where constant deluges drag rubbish floating out at sea onto beach shores.

According to a 2015 report on global waste, Indonesia comes second to only China in terms of ocean garbage.

As per the report, Indonesia’s 250 million inhabitants are responsible for between 0.8 and 1kg of plastic waste per annum.

The South-East Asian country is estimated to be creating roughly 1.29 million metric tons of garbage yearly.

This is extremely bad news for tourists, or rather, the booming tourism economy.

Holidaymakers need only step onto Legian or Kuta beach to understand the full scope of this issue. And of course, when we see “full” we mean merely the tip of a very dirty iceberg.

So what does the pollution actually look like in numbers?

Here’s just one troubling indicator of the issue:

indonesias-plastic-bag-problem-in-numbers-20140918
Image source: Rappler.com

Speaking with holidaymakers on the ground, News.com found most were as disgusted by the garbage as you probably are right now from reading the facts.

Plastic straws are strewn through beaches, coke bottles have replaced shells on the shoreline and food packaging have become the new marine life.

Austrian traveller Vanessa Moonshine told News.com, “When I want to swim, it is not really nice. I see a lot of garbage here every day, every time.”

“It’s always coming from the ocean. It’s really horrible.”

Bali isn’t the only tropical island in the grips of garbage crisis, with tourist hotspots such as Thailand and parts of China are also feeling the wrath.

Though in comparison to these other destinations, Bali is lagging in its tackling of the issue.

In October of last year, Thailand officially banned cigarettes on beaches, a huge win for turtles, environmentalists, and holidaymakers everywhere.

As per the new laws, those who break the ban will be fined up to 10,000 Thai baht, roughly AUD$3850, and possibly face a maximum jail term of one year.

Here’s looking at you Bali, and every tourist who forgoes recycling in favour of beachside littering.

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