Yoga for trash

Cleaning up beaches in Bali

Rubbish is a huge problem in so many places around the world, Bali included. I guess that’s the downside to being an island on a severely polluted planet: your coastline becomes the semi-permanent dumping ground for rubbish that should never have gone into the sea in the first place.

Why semi-permanent? Because if the trash isn’t collected then the next high tide will drag it back into the ocean, where plastics will strangle and kill marine life, toxic chemicals will be released into the water and our trash will kill off millions of sea birds – for centuries to come.

The stats are frightening. It takes 450 years for a “disposable” diaper to disintegrate. 600 years for fishing line to reduce to nothing. 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose. It can take up to five years for a cigarette butt and 20 years for a plastic grocery bag to break down. And because plastics take so long to disintegrate, they will kill marine animals many times over. A fish that dies from ingesting a piece of plastic will decompose, but the plastic won’t – and so that’s released into the marine ecosystem where again it becomes an environmental hazard. This could happen over and over and over.

According to Ocean Crusaders there could be 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean. Every year, they say, 6,4-million tones are dumped into the ocean – that’s the same as 3200km-long line of trucks, each loaded with garbage.

As I said, the stats are frightening.

And so we’re doing something about it – because every little bit really does help. Every single rupiah paid for Low Tide Yoga’s drop-in classes goes towards cleaning the beach here in Medewi. For every paying person who attends a drop-in yoga class, one person is paid to clean the beach for a day… and this helps in many ways. It’s income for someone who doesn’t have a regular wage; it makes for cleaner beaches; cleaner surf; and ultimately reduces the amount of trash that’s out there.

Beach cleaning is a constant job because every high tide brings more plastic. Some tides bring in more rubbish than others. We’re not the only ones working to clean up Medewi. The local surf club, Medewi Board Riders, has just bought and placed yellow rubbish bins (made from old car tyres) all around the point, and they’re organizing beach clean-ups every weekend. With a bit of perseverance, I’m pretty sure that Medewi could become the most consistently clean beach on this beautiful island.

Below are some pics from today’s clean-up, which is being paid for by the money collected from four surfers who practiced yoga with us yesterday morning. At first it looks like natural debris on the beach but take a closer look, and you’ll see how much plastic is tangled in there. For now we have no other choice but to burn the rubbish; out here in west Bali it’s the only option… if you have a better (cost-effective) idea, please let us know!

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