It is dawn on Sunday morning as we gather in the fields beside a shrine. A group of girls from a local dance club are joining us to collect plastic waste from the roadsides through the village. The rising sun causes their bags to glow like lanterns as we walk up the hill with Wayan, her husband Made, various community leaders and around 20 dancers.
There is waste everywhere. Bali has no waste collection service. Waste is simply tossed into the open drains beside the road to become someone else’s problem.
‘The rubbish is coming from villages up the mountain’ one of the organisers complains but, three days later at the end of a religious ceremony we see young men from the village tossing plastic bags into the drains. Let the water take it away to become someone else’s problem. As a wiser man than me observed, the nations of the world should pass a law requiring all waste to be disposed of upstream. Who would do that if the rubbish came back to their own community?
‘What is needed is practical help and suggestions’ says a senior member of the clean and green team. Two days later we are at Avani Eco a company that makes plastic bags made from cassava starch. I buy 600 bags; some for Shared Earth to use in further trials to see if they could be used to ship goods safely to us, some to see if we could sell them to wholesale customers in the UK, and some for Yuli and Dean (our agent and her husband) to take to the village where they will be used by Wayan and Made to promote solutions in the community and in local schools.