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Plastic in Paradise

It is obvious when one first visits Bali that, as a whole, the island is far from pristine.

The word paradise means:

  1. heaven, as the final abode of the righteous.
  2. an intermediate place for the departed souls of the righteous awaiting resurrection.
  3. (often initial capital letter) Eden.
  4. a place of extreme beauty, delight, or happiness.
  5. a state of supreme happiness; bliss.

While I would say there are “pockets” of paradise in Bali, the island is not sparsely populated, and a compounding problem is its proximity to Java.

Bali has about 4 million people, while its huge neighbor, Java, has 145 million people. Here is how Java compares to entire countries that are smaller, population-wise (Java is inside the small, red oval in the graphic below):

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During the rainy season, garbage that hasn’t been managed through sanitation systems finds it way into rivers and then the ocean. Bali’s beaches can become an unfortunate receptacle for plastics and other refuse that flows into the Indian Ocean from Java.

Fortunately organizations such as 4Ocean and Sungai Watch (for Bali’s rivers), have made incredible progress towards cleaning up massive amounts of plastic.

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Local people who collect plastics as their main job also help keep the island from becoming overwhelmed:

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We have a long ways to go to find effective solutions to Bali’s plastic problems. But if there is one thing I’m certain of, it’s that the Balinese (as well as the significant expat population) will continue to do whatever is necessary to help protect the integrity of their island.

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