Floating Flowers Magazine

just some words about cultural tourism

The girl who threw plastic in the jungle

It was that night when we were heading towards the temple in Mengwi. A beautiful temple surrounded by water, a symbol of the cosmos. The ceremony was very busy, and we were afraid that we would loose each other in the dense crowd. When we managed to walk through the entrance gate and were greeted by the smell of food and incense, all that fear was gone. After the fascinating ceremony we got out of the temple. The Balinese woman and her little girl who were with us sat down on the floor, and we joined them. We started sharing all the food she brought with her. Rice, fruit, and candy. Her young daughter immediately reached for the candy, opened up the plastic cover, and started to eat. She finished quickly, stood up, crossed the street and before we could even blink, she threw the piece of plastic in the jungle! Because that’s what her mother told her to do. Because her parents grew up with banana leafs as material to carry food and sweets. Banana leafs that would perish after a while, a quality that plastic obviously does not have.

I am very interested in the environmental situation on Bali. After some research on the Internet, I appear not to be alone in this interest. A lot of people seem to be worried about the situation, including the Balinese themselves. Some say that it’s a lack of education, others say that people are just being lazy. I think that it’s neither one of these two. Every human being who smells the smell of burning plastic that fills Bali’s air night after night will notice that it can’t be healthy, let along be something good for the environment. But hey, what other options DO they have? There is no government aligned garbage collection, aside from a couple of initiatives that recently started. Plastic overflows the island; even within the industry that I call branding religion, plastic is integrated. Where women used to get flowers from the market, carrying it home in there baskets, it’s now pre-packed in plastic bags ready to carry home after a busy day at work in the tourist industry.

To continue with this argument, education is not what is missing here in my opinion. From their Balinese Hindu perspective, they learn to be good for the environment. Besides, as I have said before, every human being who smells burned plastic KNOWS that it’s wrong. And people see that the plastic they threw away a year ago, is still there and not perishing at all.

Temple in Mengwi

Temple in Mengwi

So, is it laziness then? Perhaps, but I don’t think this is something we can blame people for. In Europe for example, many locations are equipped with good garbage collection systems and garbage cans are all over the place. People know what is bad, and what is good. They are ‘educated’. Still, I find loads of rubbish alongside of the road, at times even next to garbage cans. The good thing is that they majority of people still uses the garbage cans and collection systems – when it’s provided. So, let’s say that humans are lazy by nature… It has to be there, otherwise, no one (a few exceptions here and there) would even bother.

I think that a possible solution lays in this idea, and that it should be found in the tourism industry, those who caused it in the first place. All hotels should start an initiative working closely with the local government, so that there is a solid garbage collection system, in such a way that waste is being separated, recycled or destroyed so it has a minimum impact on the environment and will not end up on the sawas, or in rivers, or in people’s backyards. They should provide the opportunity for garbage collection and processing. It sure is possible, and I am sure they even know how.

I really hope something will change. For the people of Bali and for Bali’s beautiful nature. I hope the day will come at a following ceremony, when the mother can point to the garbage can instead of the river.

What do you think?


© 2015 by Debbie Vorachen – Floating Flowers. All rights reserved.



3 comments on “The girl who threw plastic in the jungle

  1. Sue Slaght
    January 25, 2015

    So sad to think that people don’t realize the impact. Hopefully through education and involvement of both government and private industry things can change.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. betweentruthandhope
    November 9, 2015

    I have been to Bali in March and I was surprised about the high level of pollution. The island is beautiful, but there are too many cars and the waste does not get recycled. In Germany we have a very good recycling system. A similar system would be very helpful, I think. As well as some reductions in transport emissions. I also think that the gov and the tourism industry have to work together to improve the situation. I also saw many spiritual centers. They could also join together and organize public cleaning days for everyone to join.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on January 25, 2015 by in Anthropology, Cultural Tourism, Eco Tourism and tagged , , , , , , .


%d bloggers like this: