Garbage Wave Hits the Island of Paradise

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Bali is an island called paradise which attracts so many tourists from all around the world. People visit Bali to experience its beautiful beaches. I am one of those people who wants to experience it. So, my family and I visited Bali last week. It was an amazing experience but it didn’t feel so amazing once I got my feet caught on some garbage along the way. Plastic wrappers, plastic bags and straws are a few of the many garbage I saw all over the beaches in Bali. This situation was not only unpleasant to see, but it also smells bad, and it causes water pollution. Bali Provincial Environment and Hygiene Service (DLHK) declared a “state of emergency waste” along a six-kilometer coastline that includes beaches such as Jimbaran, Kuta, and Seminyak.

In this frustrating situation, many people are eager to solve the problem firstly by knowing the reason. Why is there so much garbage in Bali? When did the paradise island turn into a dumping ground? Bali’s beaches in the southwest tend to catch garbage when monsoonal rains and winds blow each year from west to east. Dr. Denise Hardesty, a principal research scientist at Australia’s CSIRO science agency and an expert on global plastic pollution said, “The increasing amount of plastic washing up was in line with the global rise in the production of plastic. Beaches around the globe were seeing an increase in waste, but in monsoonal countries we do find a much stronger seasonal effect.”

Unfortunately, a dumping ground isn’t where tourists want to spend their holiday. Bali is considered the most popular tourist spot in Indonesia, but in 2019 the number of foreign tourists visiting Bali decreased significantly. Based on data from the Bali Province Central Statistics Agency, the number of foreign tourists visiting Bali in the first semester of 2019 was only 2.84 million, down 1.29 percent compared to the same period the previous year. In fact, when compared to previous years, the number of foreign tourists visiting always increases every year. In the long term, the attraction of domestic and foreign tourists will be affected, due to the large pile of garbage that interferes with tourist activities while on vacation in Bali Island. 

Aesthetically, garbage can disturb tourists, but marine pollution is much more serious. Microplastics can contaminate fish which if eaten by humans can cause various health problems including cancer. Marine pollution according to PP No. 19 of 1999 concerning Control of Marine Pollution and/or Destruction is defined as the entry or inclusion of living things, substances, energy, and/or other components into the marine environment by human activities so that the quality decreases to a certain level which causes the marine environment to not in accordance with the quality standards and/or function. Marine pollution has resulted in environmental degradation and underwater life, with a water area of ​​93 thousand square kilometer, 17,480 islands, and a coastline of 95,000 km, Indonesia is also a country with the best coral reefs and the richest biodiversity in the world with a coral reef area of ​​284,300 square kilometer or equivalent to 18% of the world’s total coral reefs. The natural wealth and marine biodiversity are threatened by the increasing marine pollution in Indonesia. In addition to causing environmental degradation, marine pollution also results in a decline in the fishermen’s economy. The impact of marine pollution and waste has resulted in a decrease in the catch of fishermen in a number of areas in Indonesia.  

In order to solve this problem, Indonesia has committed to the UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign and has pledged to reduce marine plastic waste by 70% by the year 2025. The country’s plan envisions recycling, reducing the use of plastic bags, launching garbage clean-ups and raising public awareness. The biggest problem is actually the garbage handling hasn’t been effective in Indonesia. Bali has just started to reorganize it by being the first province to ban Single-use Plastics (PSP), therefore the Governor of Bali, Wayan Koster, has issued regulation Number 97 of 2018 which discusses Restrictions on the Generation of Single-use Plastic Waste. We can’t fully bring back the paradise island like it used to be overnight, but with the time and effort that we put in, hopefully one day I can revisit Bali and understand why it is called a paradise island.