My most recent adventure / search for more inspiration took me to an island off Bali, Nusa Penida. As our boat approached the harbour, I already figured I was going to love this place. Yes of course, the crystal clear waters, the coral reefs and the food. But there was more to this island. It was not just an island simply booming with tourism. Nusa Penida, to me, was an island that consisted of a rich culture and a diverse geography. I always thought of the island as a blend between pretty much all the countries in South East Asia.
Yes, tourism can affect the direction of a country, island or city immensely. And as a tourist at this point in time, it is so important for us to realize and be mindful of the impact we have on local communities. As always there are always positives and negatives to tourism and travel.
Travel can serve as inspiration, it can serve as a much-needed break from your busy lives or it can simply help to open your mind and respect the diversity our planet consists of.
The best part is that while you travel seeking to learn about cultures and people you’ve never met, the local communities are also actually quite eager to learn from you if you respect their surroundings and compassionately want to help.
I am not entirely placing the blame on tourists for plastic pollution and the lack of infrastructure to manage waste. But a lot of it does fall on us because the huge influx of tourists gives the local communities no time to develop their waste management systems, or even become mindful that single-use plastic is negatively impacting our oceans which in-turn can hurt their own livelihoods.
Which is why as tourists, we need to always clean up after ourselves! We are guests in someone’s home, someone who has opened their arms welcoming us in, why don’t we just treat it with respect and treat their homes like we treat our own homes?
On the flip-side, during my stay in Nusa Penida, I definitely witnessed many locals itself littering, and I see both sides of the story as a way to learn and move forward for the better.
I can definitely highlight all the disturbing facts circulating on social media, media outlets to open your eyes in terror. Instead, we need to open our eyes to ways, existing or creating, to make an impact.
Acting out of terror simply leads to short-term solutions. Acting out of passion to do better with positive intentions, leads to long-term viable solutions that can completely change the way we work and our planet operates.
We are at this juncture as a planet, that we shouldn’t be living with the mindset, ‘If I didn’t do it, then I shouldn’t care.’ We simply need to take our egos out of this and do it for our one planet and our future generations.
A prime example of this is Trash Hero and in specific, Trash Hero Nusa Penida. The goal of Trash Hero in various regions is to arrange cleanups of diverse scales to rid our coastlines, our beaches, and within our communities itself, all the garbage lying around.
Trash Hero aims to responsible manage waste while educating tourists and locals the impact of the way we treat our environment. Trash Hero strives to put all our egos aside, and become living role models, motivating others to join and help make our world a better place!
We may not realize it, but garbage anywhere has a negative effect on our health, on our economy and on our planet.
- On our health because excessive garbage and lack of waste management infrastructure can lead to diseases spread through humans, or animals that are sifting for food
- On our economy because it is destroying our oceans which we all know impacts our diets, tourism, and literally our survival. Using single-use plastic may deem to be beneficial for the short-run, but we are destroying our planet and we need to strike a balance and think about the long-run!
- And of course, our planet – Again, we all know how plastic is affecting our marine life, our oceans, which in turn is speeding up the warming of our planet. We don’t need to jump into the disturbing facts just to understand this, Bill Nye is sick and tired of it too.
Back to Trash Hero – with these meetups that require nothing from attendees except for just showing up, local communities, tourists and children have the ability to come together, act together and help raise awareness of what our beaches and coastlines are supposed to look like. I’ve had the chance to participate in cleanups, and the conversation it sparks amongst those walking past you which eventually leads people to join or pick up one piece of litter and contribute before moving on with their day! This is all we need to aim for, sparking conversations, sharing our knowledge and raising awareness.
Because once we are aware, there’s no way we can possibly continue treating our environment the way humans do today
The fact that at one point, an organization like Trash Hero did not exist and now it does just goes to show that larger number of people, day-by-day, are realizing the negative implications of how we humans are treating our planet. We just need to spread the word further and faster to not only help clean and pick up garbage, but to also join the conversation and act proactively to improve the infrastructure in our communities.
Last but not least, future generations. I cannot stress enough the impact that our behaviours today are having on future generations. We need to set positive examples for the next generations.
We need to ensure that the generations following us know the true value of our environment, the true value of plastic, and the true value of how important it is to manage our waste, and decrease our carbon footprint
During this cleanup in Nusa Penida, about 13 children joined us to help! They gave up their play-time and so on, to help clean garbage that they hardly contributed to.
It may be hard for many of us to admit, but children should be the role models to adults in today’s world, take Greta as an example!
Many say cleaning and picking up garbage is not the solution, you need to deal with the problem itself, and I totally agree. But, that doesn’t mean we remain completely ignorant of the garbage that surrounds us today.
All solutions should work hand-in-hand, whether it’s being grass-root level to cleanup our environment, or whether it’s targeting businesses to employ cleaner and more sustainable practices.
This is why knowledge sharing, learning from each other and striving for change is so important. We need to move past greed, and the pursuit of riches.
We need to come together to educate, raise awareness and act in realistic and genuine manner to preserve our environment for years to come.
- When you travel, find ways to contribute to the local communities and environment. Such as Trash Hero or other cleanup initiatives or other volunteer initiatives such as planting trees (Read about Ecotourism and my experience in Costa Rica here)
- Say no to plastic! Strive to be as low-waste as possible:
- Say no to straws
- Bring your own water bottle
- Bring your own tote bag
- Bring your own cutlery
- Do we really need to buy those small sachets of shampoos or those small yogurt drinks? When we choose not to buy, we can have an insanely large impact because of economy centered our world is
- DO NOT LITTER!
- Spark conversations with locals and other tourists about such issues. Knowledge share with locals because it is the only way we can all learn what’s actually happening rather than assuming
- Be mindful at all times of your actions and the impacts it can have
- Educate yourself and others, and raise awareness ALL THE TIME! At this point in time, our world needs this the most!
The way we act, the way we consume, the way we raise awareness is what is going to move the conversation in the right direction!