Bali: Plastic Pollution Overseas

Bali: Plastic Pollution Overseas

Born after seeing plastic pollution in the most isolated pockets of the ocean, it is only natural that CaliWoods stays true to its roots and spends a bit of time still exploring. Currently working in Bali, Shay shares what is going on with Plastic Pollution in another part of the world…


Everything in Bali is vivid and exaggerated; the noise, the food, the kindness of the people. This also rings true for the plastic pollution problem. Instead of seeing the occasional piece of rubbish on the road back home, you actually can’t walk a tropical step without seeing a plastic straw, some food packaging or a ciggy butt (yes, those are made from plastic too!).

I literally picked up 42 straws in 3.5 minutes on Echo Beach, Canggu. After meandering through the beach chairs there was a decent chunk of straws in my hand and the ocean was literally right there. They were destined for the sea, maybe the nose of another poor turtle. Straws are just the start of the waste issues Bali and other developing countries are facing – but waste knows no borders and it’s really a global issue.

 Counting those straws....


🐳We are facing a massive scale issues! The world is a really big and there’s a lot of us humans. Tourism causes a lot of damage environmental issues and we need to all tread lightly to the spots we visit.

🐳Waste Issues might not be so in your face in New Zealand and other countries with more adequate systems but the consumption is the same. It’s through the roof, our appetite for cheap and convenient is insatiable – and we need to curb it asap ferg.

🐳Sustainability is education dependant. Understanding why it’s not okay to litter, burn rubbish or use the resources in the first place is the first step in changing behaviour.

🐳It’s also a money thing – when money is the biggest struggle, stomachs comes first and the planet comes second. Not just here in Bali, poverty is real everywhere. Those of us lucky to not have to stress where our next meal is coming from need to instigate the change, vote with our consumer dollar and pilot the consumer driven movement. Business responds to our demands...for this to shift at scale the change needs to come from somewhere.

🐳Travel miles are hard on the planet but it’s been my biggest motivator for making change – giving a world view and then bringing it home to act local.



All this can seem overwhelming and you're thinking how to navigate your next trip away. Taking responsibility to your own consumption is really powerful. Here are some of the things I start with for more sustainable trips away from home:

  1. Take Your Tool Kit With You! My daily looks like; 1L Water Bottle, lightweight Reusable Coffee Cup, 2 x Reusable CaliStraws, 1 is the Cocktail size which fits in my wallet and the other is the Drinking Straw which is larger (those coconuts!). I also travel with a reusable cotton bag for market shops for fruit etc. Sometimes I include some cutlery and there might be extra tools if you’re on the move with kids.

  2. Refill Like A Hero - Here in Bali I haven’t bought one plastic water bottle in over 2 months, a place where everyone thinks that bottled water is a necessity. I’ve refilled every where I go, all the restaurants need to cook with filtered water so if they don’t give it for free, then you can usually just pay them to refill your bottle. Same goes at home when you’re out and about – don’t be afraid to ask spots to fill up your bottle, they will usually happily do it!

  3. Don’t Pass On Your Waste - Support businesses that implement plastic-free policies and cook yourself where you can. Just because it comes to your plate plastic-free doesn’t mean that is how it got there. Bali has a lot of plant-based spots doing it right and in the future we will be seeing hospo really step up in this space worldwide. Do mini shops for snacks so you can reduce packaging by eating fresh local fruits and veg.

  4. Skip The Takeaways – packaging food that you could have eaten on a plate or drunk from a cup is completely avoidable. Take 10, dine in and enjoy your new spot. 

  5. Say No - to plastic bags, plastic straws and anything you don’t truly need – they are handed out without a thought but just hand it right back if you forget to request no bag etc.

  6. Watch Where You Stay - Keep an eye out for eco and sustainable accom spots. They use less chemicals in the pool, washing the sheets and on your food – so will generally be operating in a more earth-friendly way while also sorting their waste responsibly. Use the feedback cards if you saw they could maybe improve on something - if you don't (politely) speak up, nothing will change. 


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