If You Want to Change the World, Take the 1st Step
Katur was my first host in Bali, he approached me in the morning as I was having breakfast.
As I mentioned that I hadn't eaten meat for over 4 years after having researched the impact of the meat industry on the planet, we talked ecology.
" I have worked for Coca-Cola for 10 years back in Australia. It's a very smart company that taught their employees a lot about the importance of recycling.
After I broke up with my wife two years ago, I moved back to Bali.
I was shocked to see how things had changed.
First, more crowd.
Thirty years ago, there was only my family house here. If I stood on a tree to pick a coconut, I would see nature as far as the eyes can see. Now, all the land is gone, I could not see the beach and I live three blocks away from it.
The house was made of bamboo, there was no access to metal nor concrete. We lived primitively. We had backpackers over who would even sleep in our kitchen in their sleeping bags. A hotel night in Bali would cost 50 roopies. Now it is minimum 75 000 ($5). Multiplied by a thousand, can you imagine?
And still, if you come from a more developed country, you can live like a king, and spend in one month what you would spend in one night at the restaurant.
When rich businessmen saw the opportunity of building big hotels and making money here, prices started to go up, but we also gained comfort.
However, the pollution had gotten worse within 20 years. More crowd leads to more trash. It is out of control. Bali is a small island, so if rubbish takes over, where do we go, there won't be enough room!
Every morning, I go for a walk to check the waves and every single day, I see plastic everywhere. Trash on the streets, on the beach, bottles floating on the water... I even found plastic bags buried below my pool when I fixed the pipes. I am not happy about the situation, I tell everyone to think about it and do something. I also have 2 kids and want them to thrive in this beautiful nature.
I am part of the Bali Surfing Club community and we regularly clean up the ocean. The RENext Stop Asian Surfing Tour (longboard surf competition) will stop by Kuta beach for the first time this year and we want to make sure that the beach is neat.
The problem is that it is a never-ending process as rubbish keeps piling up, despite our efforts to get rid of it!
When you travel somewhere, say you buy Mac Donalds, get your food in a plastic bag, you sit down on the beach, have a beer, have a good time... When you finish don't leave the rubbish on the sand! because when a big tide comes, it brings it to the ocean. And then it is a nightmare to clean up.
The thing is, a lot of the big stores give customers plastic bags that take hundreds of years to decompose, instead of paper bags.
The responsibility is on us. If we leave it out there, they won't come back. And we need to set the example. If the locals act well, westerners will likely behave better too".
Fortunately, the government is starting to raise awareness and implement initiatives (more trashcan, an upcoming ban on polythene bags, ecology awareness taught at school...); there are also a bunch of ecological projects started by local communities such as Ecobali, trash Hero World or Merah Putih Hijau.
Katur concluded with: "My advice to readers is: if you want to change the world, do a little bit and then everyone can follow you".