Recycling in Bali

Hindu residents of Bali, Indonesia, believe in a unity of gods, humans, and nature. On this beautiful island, however, nature is marred by trash. Locals are finding that the best way to restore harmony is by thinking small. Click here for the original story featured in Deutsche Welle.

Recycling in Bali

Litter was not a problem when broad banana leaves were the wrapping of choice. Now that products are encased in plastic, carelessly discarded packaging is choking waterways and streets. Even when the refuse is corralled into dumps and although eighty percent of waste is organic, it is more than this island can bear. As piles of trash ferment, they reek and release harmful greenhouse gases that exacerbate climate change. Frequent rains wash stinking heaps downriver and to the scenic beaches that are popular with tourists and the main source of income for the island. A flashy and expensive facility that extracts waste from the river has to be shut down when it the rains, which is all the time. Meanwhile, a modest facility sorts the recyclables and sells them for reuse. It then mixes oxygen in with the remaining mounds of organic waste, turning it into fertile soil that is a welcome addition to the island.

Guiding Questions

  • According to the video, why are small-scale and inexpensive projects sometimes harder for people to get excited about? Why can they be more effective than fancy and expensive solutions?
  • How does your family dispose of food waste? What kind of program or plan could encourage composting in your community?

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