Each year, Bali and its predominantly Hindu culture celebrate Nyepi festival, the day of silence. This symbolises the Balinese/Hindu calendar and brings the new year in with reflection, fasting, meditation and of course, a whole day of silence.
Whilst many of the Balinese staff that work in the Gilis head home for some quiet and treasured family time, many of the tourists that live, work and play in Bali see it as a chance of a weekend escape away.
We held a super special Debris Free Friday to invite tourists to help us keep it plastic-free.
Aston Sunset Beach has been furiously cleaning the beaches each morning with every plastic tide that rolls in. Being one of the only resorts on the west side of the island that has remained open, they’ve had their work cut out and this week they asked for help from the Gili Eco Trust’s team of eco-warrior volunteers.
Initial inspections of the beaches showed heavy pollution in both directions! Most of the plastic that is washing up on our beaches in the rainy season isn’t actually from the Gili Islands. It has drifted from further afield, usually from mainland Lombok, Bali or Sumbawa, depending on the ocean currents.
We sat down with the Aston team to work out a plan. Newly employed graphic designer Deepo helped to organize staff into groups to help sort the waste into bags of recyclable materials and trash.
After a quick briefing, we set off! Cleaning the beach for one hour goes fast when you’re having so much fun! Along with some children that joined in as well, we collected feathers, lava stones and shells to make sandcastles at the end, the only thing we can leave on the beach along with our footprints!
Even some tourists that set themselves up for sunset, jumped out of their seats and came to help us out too.
We all returned our bags and our treasures to Aston Sunset Beach. The bags were carefully examined to make sure that all was separated properly so they can be recycled.
Most clear plastic wrappers and bags can be recycled, however, if they’ve been on the beach for too long, then the suns powerful rays start to break down the plastics. It’s critical to remove beach plastics ASAP to be able to recycle them efficiently.
There was a huge influx of flip-flops! Although we didn’t collect a record amount, that was made two months ago when we collected 491 flip flops in the space of one hour! Still, these cheaply made, highly destructive sandals are fast becoming one of the most problematic items of litter found on the beaches.
With the experts in waste management on Gilis, FMPL Gili Trawangan staff, all the recyclables were bound up and weighed, with a total of 64.5kg sent to the recycling centre. A further 22kg of glass bottles were recovered (mainly small brown bottles of red bull) that were separated ready to be crushed into sand directly here on Gili T.
The residual waste left over was sent to the island’s dump. Luckily bound up tightly so it can’t blow away and pollute anywhere else.
Once all the trash was stacked up on the carts and ready to go, Aston staff had brought out some super yummy (and not wrapped in plastic) local snacks and gorengan to be enjoyed with iced tea and juice.
Since the pandemic started, we haven’t had many beach clean sponsors that can help out with Debris Free Friday’s. Where we used to offer free Bintang to cleaners, we’ve realised that some people just want to clean the beach without the incentive of a beer. We don’t want to stop cleaning the beaches. Partly because marine pollution keeps on coming and because of the importance of showing the island is still alive and active.
To sponsor a Gili Trawangan beach clean yourself costs only $25! With this, we can organize bags, cleaning equipment, transport to pick up the waste and local snacks and hygiene facilities for volunteers.
To give the gift of a plastic-free beach, you can donate via Give Asia and you or your company will get a shout out and thanks via our socials for helping to support our campaign for a plastic-free paradise.