The South East Asian island of Bali is a paradise to both surfers and tourists, but during the wet season, garbage and especially plastic transform it into a nightmare. When it rains, the water literally rinses the island of its plastic garbage which all ends up in the sea. However, a cyclical event that causes onshore winds pushes back tonnes of the trash back onto shore creating a nightmare for surfers. This problem has been getting worse by the day and now both water sports fans and locals admit the shores are in their worst state ever.
Photographer, surfer Jason Childs, who has lived on the island for about 20 years, admits that the sheer volume of plastic is exceptional, and the scariest thing is to knowing that it is getting worse with each passing year. The huge amount of debris spans the island’s business beaches which include Canggu, Kuta, Seminyak and Ulus. This waste constitutes a combination of garbage generated by the island’s growing tourism industry as well as local trash.
In 2013 alone, over 3 million people toured the island, which was more than 11% growth from 2012. The island’s garbage collection and disposal services are unable to cope with the huge volume of waste generated, hence, the trash is often illegally pushed offsite or dumped; out of sight out of mind. The unfortunate thing is that it all resurfaces later on the sandy beaches that locals and tourists alike enjoy.
Bali’s governor I Made Mangku Pastika swept the issue under the carpet, claiming it is a natural phenomenon, since it normally happens year in year out. He claims that it is no one’s fault since it occurs routinely, and urged restaurants and hotels to take care of clean-ups and disposal. While he is right not to point a finger at any single group, his response is no more than a temporary solution.
This is why young Balinese surfers like Sonny Perrussel together with his friends are seeking a lasting solution. Since word went out about their plea and mission, they have gathered over 20,000 signatures and continue to add to the list of petitioners eager to change their world. This is just one step in the right direction.