Here's how you can help with Bali's devastating pollution

Jul 27 2019, 12:32 am

Tourism in Bali is booming — but who’s surprised?

The islands’ captivating culture, postcard-worthy ocean, and stunning geography have left lasting impressions on visitors since the 60s, when Bali¬†(and in particular the small village of¬†Kuta’s “secret” untouched surf spot) became an essential stopover¬†for hippies travelling between Australia and Europe.

Word got out of this magical island in the sun, and in 2018 Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport welcomed over 6.5 million tourists, an increase of over 10% from 2017.

According to¬†Nusa Bali,¬†2019’s target is set at 6.8 million visitors, (which seems likely given the number of Bali vacation selfies on Instagram lately). With Bali’s surge of tourism, environmental effects have followed.

Lack of disposal on the island, the enormous environmental footprint of the hospitality industry and the steady production of single-use plastics continue to pollute Bali’s streets, beaches, and villages to the point where the problem can no longer be ignored.¬†According to the Jakarta Post, experts estimate up to 80% of the trash on Bali’s beaches comes from the island, although it has been difficult to trace exact origins.
bali beach plastic

Daria Shevtsova/Pexels

These impacts are in part a result of the lack of action taken by the local government — until recently. In an unprecedented move last December, the Balinese government banned all single-use plastics,¬†including shopping bags, styrofoam, and plastic straws. The ban, aimed at producers, distributors, and suppliers will enter into force across the island following a six-month grace period.
In another move towards environmental preservation, this January the Bali administration drafted a bylaw on a tourist tax to help tackle pollution and waste management. According to the Jakarta Post, the new law includes a $10 (CAD 12) fee for overseas visitors to the Indonesian island.
While the local government is certainly stepping into action, the solution requires efforts from citizens and tourists alike.
Being a responsible traveller is as simple as being informed and making intentional choices. Below, our tips for staying low-impact and keeping Bali beautiful as you plan your next visit.

Go eco


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When planning your trip, consider minimizing your environmental impact by staying at an eco-hotel or hostel. These sustainable stays are committed to reducing environmental impacts in their daily operations, such as conserving energy and water, preserving natural habitats, and pollution prevention.

Refuse + reuse


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One look at Seminyak’s beach pollution and you’ll never grab a plastic straw again, guaranteed.

While new laws against single-use plastics are still being rolled out, aim to refuse any plastic products commonly offered at restaurants, cafes, and stores. Avoid contributing to the pollution by bringing a reusable bottle instead. Unfortunately, the tap water in Bali is of questionable quality, so save yourself a case of “Bali belly” and aim to refill only from larger, filtered jugs from the local grocery store.

Get involved


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From organized beach clean-ups and to community education, there are plenty of ways to get involved and learn from local organizations. Check out Plastic Free Uluwatu, Scholars of Sustenance and R.O.L.E. Foundation, and be sure to search Facebook for any organized events.

Bali is an island known for its natural wonders — the sea, the jungle, the wildlife — and we plan to keep it that way. By being responsible travellers and getting involved, we can all contribute to keeping Bali beautiful.

Katherine BertrandKatherine Bertrand

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