Every year humankind produces around 2.12 BILLION TONS of garbage. The staggering amount of waste is partly due to the fact that 99 percent of the things we buy are thrown away within just 6 months. Most of our garbage ends up in landfill, and an unreasonably large portion (mostly plastic) ends up polluting our waterways and oceans – an estimated 5-13 million tons of plastic waste annually. Interestingly, 75% of the plastic that ends up in our oceans is estimated to originate from just 11 rivers.
The worst offenders: China tops the list of the biggest marine polluters, contributing an estimated 3.5 million tons of plastic waste to our oceans every year (27% of global plastic waste). This is followed by Indonesia in second place, with 1.3 million tons.
ABOVE: Tides of rubbish and plastic waste are a common daily site on many Bali beaches.
As the reality and implications of our destructive impact on the Earth slowly dawns on us, the subject of how to manage and minimise our environmental impact has become an issue of primary importance to many people. A fundamental shift in mind-set and a commitment to change is more essential than ever if we stand a chance of halting this disturbing trend and improving our waste management processes.
Governments of the worst polluting nations are only now beginning to stand up and acknowledge the need to change. In a recent UN Oceans Summit, delegates from China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines declared they would work to keep plastics out of the seas. On a smaller scale, leading green companies (such as Selong Selo) are already adopting this mind-set and paving the way by striving to become zero-waste companies – implementing integrated waste management programs aiming to eliminate their waste production altogether.
ABOVE: Programs such as Selong Selo’s ‘clean surf’ beach cleanup program help to educate and involve local people on the importance of reducing and recycling rubbish, and keeping the landscape clean for tourism and environmental benefit.
THE ZERO WASTE PHILOSOPY…
Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages redesign so that all products are reused and recycled. The process is similar to the way resources are reused and replenished in nature.
But how to achieve a state of zero waste? Here are 5 simple steps (The 5 R’s of Zero Waste) to guide you through the process:
Say NO to products packaged in plastic! Say NO to disposable single-use items such as drinking straws and plastic cutlery, and plastic grocery bags. These items will inevitably end up in our rivers and oceans and littering our beautiful beaches. As long as consumers keep buying it, manufacturers will keep making it (and wrapping it in shiny plastic).
Try to reduce your overall consumption – especially of packaged goods and items that will be thrown away after only one use. A lot of the stuff we purchase is bought on impulse and ends up clogging up our houses until such time that we throw it away Don’t buy things you really don’t need.
Disposables are, well, disposable. You have to buy them over and over. Which means you keep spending money on things that you will just end up throwing away. Wherever
possible, buy items that can be re-used (such as a refillable water bottle, and cotton grocery bags) instead of thrown away.
After you have refused, reduced, and reused there hopefully shouldn’t be much left to recycle. Still, make sure to separate your trash and donate your old clothes and household items so that those resources can be reused instead of filling our landfills and littering our beautiful environment.
Finally, compost any leftover food and plant waste to recover the valuable minerals and nutrients. Compost is an incredibly rich fertilizer that can be cycled back into our gardens and crops.
THE OUTLOOK FOR LOMBOK…
Fortunately, Lombok is still a relatively undeveloped island and therefore not yet buckling under the same extreme pressures of waste management inadequacy as other more populated Indonesian islands. This is where we currently have a great advantage and opportunity – early intervention is key to preventing the sort of waste crisis we see in Bali, and by setting processes and initiatives in place that will help to maintain Lombok’s clean natural environment, Selong Selo hopes to avoid travelling the same path as Bali. We are currently doing this by raising awareness and education (through community-involved events such as movie nights and beach clean-ups – where educational talks are given), and providing people with the means and incentive to begin implementing change (such as establishing a ‘green-bank’ for plastic recycling, where local people can earn money from collecting and recycling plastic). This is the first step of many in creating a green mind-set among local people and tourists to help keep Lombok beautiful.