Observations From Bali – Why We Are Pretending To Stop The Plastic Crisis

Source: The TerraMar Project

Photo: Brian Yurasits

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Going plastic-free has become the world’s battle cry to save the ocean.

People all over the planet are being told to ditch plastic straws, bottles, and bags in favor of re-usable products. This trend is especially catching on among educated individuals and high-end businesses, who both want to brand themselves as ‘environmentally-friendly’.

The problem is that current solutions to single-use plastics require fundamental change to business operations which are ultimately more expensive than the status-quo.

  • Bamboo/Re-usable straws
  • Re-usable bathroom towelettes
  • Biodegradable take-away containers
  • Re-usable/biodegradable cutlery
  • Sustainable cleaning supplies

These all cost more money. And when consumers lack the disposable income or education about the impacts of plastic on their local environment – why would businesses adopt change?

plastic crisis

Photo: Brian Yurasits

Plastic Solutions For All

Today we see many higher-end restaurants and businesses taking efforts to reduce their plastic consumption – and advertise this. While lower/middle income communities remain unchanged.

Awareness around plastic pollution and its effect on the ocean is greater than ever, reaching mainstream news regularly. Yet go to any beach and you will still see the same old plastic.

The news headlines read solutions – yet the problem is still so blatantly there.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great win to have wealthier, hyper-aware individuals voicing their support of plastic solutions. At least this smaller percentage of the world is taking initiative against plastic pollution, and they are using their larger social reaches to educate others on the problem.

But it’s time now to rally the rest of the world in these same solutions. Which means making the changes affordable and practical.

While visiting tropical destinations we need to find not only the tourist-economy going plastic-free, but the local businesses and street vendors need to be involved too. And we must see more effort to educate the local peoples – especially the youth.

When you walk the streets along any coastal town in the world, you often will find some street art from a local conservation group – urging the public to keep the beaches clean. And this is incredible, but these signs are all too often displayed in English. Made by ex-pats, targeting visitors. Signage and artwork need to catch the eyes of the local community too. Breeding leaders in conservation from the ground.

Instead of using the ‘Plastic Crisis’ as a marketing scheme to shake more money out of wealthy individuals, and trying to keep just the tourist destinations free of plastic – lets urge governments to help drive change at the core of society.

Plastic bans are one way to force the hand of change, but another could be to subsidize these plastic solutions for businesses willing to get involved. Governments have no problem subsidizing fuel costs, so why not plastic alternatives to keep the coasts clean?

Solutions to plastic need to be Inclusive rather than exclusive if they are going to change the world. 

Sign up for The TerraMar Project’s #NoMoreButts campaign which provides inclusive, and easy-to-adopt solutions to intercept plastic cigarette butts from littering your local waters. https://theterramarproject.org/no-more-butts/