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Gabriella Brookfield: Marine Debris Destroying Bali

Hey, I’m Gabriella. I’m passionate about the environment, sex-trafficking, animal rights and cheese.

 

After an eye-opening three weeks with the Hawaii Outdoors Institute team and new friends to forever cherish, I have an even deeper knowledge about the environment, the Hawaiian culture and the ropes of farming.

One of my favorite moments was when my peers and I traveled to South-Point, which is an area filled with ancient Hawaiian history and ancestral activity. We teamed up with the Hawaiian Wildlife Fund team and their leaders to cleanup the marine debris that washed up on the beach prior to our arrival.

While the debris found on the beach wasn’t shocking to me, it was still very damaging. I have traveled to regions of the world where debris and pollution was so damaging and sad that most locals preferred staying inside. A good example of this would be a nation I call home, Indonesia.

The beautiful archipelago of Indonesia, with a population of 261.1 million people in 2016 is the world’s second biggest contributor to marine debris after China, and a colossal 1.29 million metric tons is estimated to be produced annually by Indonesia (News.com.au)

 

Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, unfortunately remains in the world’s top 5 world’s air-polluted city. Clearly by this you can tell Indonesia is struggling with all sorts of unsustainable practices in their industry and waste policies.

Anyways, back to South-Point! The Hawaiian Wildlife Fund had provided everyone with gloves and numerous amounts of garbage bags to use to get everything out. My friend and I targeted an area a little farther from the sand and filled up around 4 garbage bags of trash. An observation we took was that most the trash was plastic-made objects – which wasn’t a surprise, but it was disappointing to see that the garbage was spread out throughout the beach. Small, micro-pieces of plastic garbage was found under rocks and lengthy fishing nets were found scattered amongst the beach.

After the knowledge I gained from that experience, I wanted to make a change back where I live. Bali is also struggling with similar problems which Hawaii is dealing with as well.

Known as the Land of the Gods, Bali appeals through its sheer natural beauty of looming volcanoes and lush terraced rice fields that exude peace and serenity. Bali enchants with its dramatic dances and colorful ceremonies, its arts and crafts, to its luxurious beach resorts and exciting nightlife. And everywhere you will find intricately carved temples.

However, due the island’s booming business of tourism, and taking on a throw-away culture from the west, the island has lost a part of its divine charm to detrimental amounts of rubbish – specifically, plastic and wood. Tourism is responsible for 80% of Bali’s income, making tourism the largest business in Bali.

I have lived on Bali for quite sometime now and the longer my family and I stay, the bigger the problem gets. Only a handful of small organizations are trying to break the cycle of trash.

Marine debris is heavily affecting Bali’s major tourist hot-spots; beaches. However, if the government implements programs to remove marine debris, the cost of removing debris off of beaches begins at $1,500 to $25,000 per ton (APEC 2009).

 

Not only does the debris affect beaches, but it also heavily affects other Balinese attractions such as paddy fields and jungles.

According to research done by Universitas Padjadjaran, most of the debris found on the shores of Bali are plastic and wood materials – ranging from bottle caps, condoms, cups, plastic bags and fishing nets to corks, ice-cream sticks and timber. And, the occasional needles, glass bottles and more found after big parties. I believe if we unite the Balinese people there will be a change. I want to be apart of that change – my solution to end marine debris on Bali has begins with my own local community.

My school understands the damages of marine debris and plastic-pollution. However I believe no one is really taking initiative and actually doing something about the problem in my school. That’s when I come in 🙂

My goal is to get the principal, teachers, students and student families on board for at least 5 beach cleanups every semester and to ban the use of disposable single use plastic on my campus. Not only will that be beneficial for Bali but my school’s reputation will be boosted, my peers will understand that our trash problem is no joke and will eventually ban and end the use of plastic in my school. 

I will achieve this goal by proposing the idea to my principal/ by running for Student Representative and, by starting an environmental club in school to not only focus on marine debris, but the advantages of farming, composting and more. I’ll be able to start the environmental club with the knowledge I have gained through experiences in the HOI camp; working with Hip Agriculture, Uncle Les and his Taro patch, Uncle Rocky and his fish pond, daily life with HOI and labs.

Other than the environmental club that I WILL start, I plan on volunteering for  the handful of organizations determined to eradicate the ‘marine debris plague’ in Bali. I hope by also volunteering with the organizations, I gain a deeper understanding of the problem and have more ideas to help solve the problem in my local community and bring those same ideas back to my club and school.

Look at Bali’s natural beauty, without the attendance of garbage!

My heart is with Bali. I feel the pain that the island is enduring in this and other issues. We must preserve the island’s spirit, hope and culture from the rapid changes that lead to environmental degradation. Bali’s lush scenery, pristine beaches and a vibrant mixture of colors and culture belong not only to us but to future generations as well.  

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