Road Trip to Regreen Bali

Kadek Gunarta tends to his newest children: 5,000 bamboo plants

Kadek Gunarta tends to his newest children: 5,000 bamboo plants

Having fun and doing good…That’s a lesson I’ve learned from Kadek Gunarta.  I joined Dek and his team from Bali Regreen on a road trip to a very poor village in north Bali where they are helping to improve the welfare of hundreds of families.

Dek talking to the head of one of the banjar's at Songket B

Dek talking to the head of one of the banjar’s at Songket B

The Bali Regreen Project is led by Dek and sponsored by the Bali Spirit Festival Team.  It’s mission is to help improve the lives of villagers by helping them plant and then maintain and harvest bamboo which can be used for village ceremonies and as a cash crop.  Also, replanting hillsides destroyed by lava flows and erosion helps to markedly improve the environment.

Dek with Ketut one of the Bali Regreen community organizers and Supardi from Kompos Pedang Tegal.

Dek with Ketut one of the Bali Regreen community organizers and Supardi from Kompos Pedang Tegal.

But the Regreen Project is as much about community organizing and empowerment as it is about planting.  Dek and his team work closely with village leaders and farmers to plan the project, implement it and to maintain it.  Dek’s Team provides the expertise on how to plant and maintain bamboo, and works closely with farmers over many months and years.  The villagers contribute some funding for the projects, but most importantly provide the loving care to the bamboo that it needs to grow.

In addition to bamboo, the Regreen Project recently helped the Songket B villagers build a 9.6 km water pipeline to serve their village.  One of the main reasons that this village is so poor is that it lacks adequate water supplies.  There has been only 8 liters of water per day per household which is barely enough for drinking and washing with no water available to raise livestock or anything else.  Dek put together a plan that included finding a water source, pumps, pipes, water storage, construction and maintenance.  The pipeline was built in less than a month, and is now supplying water.  When I asked how the water supply has changed their lives, one woman replied that now her family has enough water for everyone to have a bath, and she’s bought some pigs and other livestock which will add to the family’s income.

Taking a bath with water from new water pipe built by Bali Regreen

Taking a bath with water from new water pipe built by Bali Regreen

Of course no Balinese road trip would be complete without a lot of joking and eating.  We made at least 3 stops for food at delicious local warungs and ended the day with a feast of Durian, the first time I ate this pungent fruit.

The mighty, fun-loving team from Bali Regreen

The mighty, fun-loving team from Bali Regreen

New Eco Club Joins Campaign to Keep Bali Beautiful

Wearing our new Eco Club SMAN1 Banjarankan t-shirts

Wearing our new Eco Club SMAN1 Banjarankan t-shirts

Thirty high school students from SMAN1 Banjarankan, Bali took a field trip on Monday to inspire them to become eco-educators at their school.  As the SMAN1 Eco Club, it will be their job to operate the school’s recycling program and to educate their fellow students about the value of recycling.

Sorting plastic at Bali Recycling

Sorting plastic at Bali Recycling

Olivier explaining how Bali Recycling converts plastic to products.

Olivier explaining how Bali Recycling converts plastic to products.

Kadek Donal makes Bali Recycling's Managers honorary Eco Clubbers.

Kadek Donal makes Bali Recycling’s Managers honorary Eco Clubbers.

These very motivated and smart kids first received a tour of Bali Recycling in Mas where Olivier Pouillon showed them how the plastic, paper and glass they recycle at their school is converted into valued products.  “Throwing that plastic away is like throwing money away,” said Olivier.  “We will pay you for that plastic, and make upcycled plastic products that we can sell,” he said.

Even old gum boots are recycled for planters at RumahKompos

Even old gum boots are recycled for planters at RumahKompos

Su.pardi of Rumah Kompos PadangTegal showing us how they make compost

Su.pardi of Rumah Kompos PadangTegal showing us how they make compost

Our next stop was to see Supardi at the Padang Tegal Rumah Kompos.  He showed us around this very efficient recycling and composting center across from Ubud’s Monkey Forest.  He also explained to us how plastic pollution poisons our air, water, animals and ultimately ourselves. IMG_3445

Finally it was lunch time where the great cooks and wonderful chefs served a delicious meal, and then treated us to a Yoga Class led by Andrea and Levi. IMG_3455

SMAN1 teachers getting into the yoga.

SMAN1 teachers getting into the yoga.

Made Max, Iloh Averi and Made Junie deep into meditation.

Made Max, Iloh Averi and Made Junie deep into meditation.

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Thank you Andrea, Levi and Yoga Barn for a great finish to the day.

 

Then back on the bus and homeward bound after enjoying a great day learning a lot and having fun!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIaZtepeC7g

Keep Bali Beautiful preview

For more information or if you’d like to help Keep Bali Beautiful, please complete this form:

Bye Bye Plastic Bag Movement Grows

Isabel and Melati from Bye Bye Plastic Bag with Klungkung Eco Clubbers, Komank from Udayana University , Puji from Keep Bali Beautiful and Lucas from DASH

Isabel and Melati from Bye Bye Plastic Bag with Klungkung Eco Club Leaders Gita and Reny, Komank from Udayana University , Puji from Keep Bali Beautiful and Lucas from DASH

Bye Bye Plastic Bag (BBPB) the kid-run organization with the big mission of banning plastic bags in Bali organized a coalition of more than 100 organizations (including Keep Bali Beautiful) and individuals to assist their effort at a meeting last week.

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 The BBPB Coalition will be focused on educating schools, businesses and villages throughout the island about the problems that plastic bags and other pollution causes for the people of Bali, and what they can do to solve it.

A the BBPB Coalition Meeting

At the BBPB Coalition Meeting

They will be organizing marches, awarding businesses that take the pledge to be plastic-free, delivering their message to the news media and continuing their campaign to obtain one million signatures to ban plastic bags.

If you would like to sign the petition to make Bali plastic bag free, click here. Or if you would like to volunteer to be part of the campaign to Keep Bali Beautiful click here.

Keep Bali Beautiful preview

University Students Take Pledge to Keep Bali Beautiful

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During a leadership retreat at Ashram Gandhi Puri, nearly 100 student leaders from the Institute of Hindu Dharma pledged they would personally take charge of helping to solve the problem of plastic pollution in Bali.  They will help create an Eco Club at their university to recycle plastic and Keep their Campus Beautiful.

These students bring a lot of enthusiasm, smarts and leadership skills.  Their commitment to cleaning up their island is a big step forward.  It’s part of our strategy to help provide these young people with the tools and infrastructure to help them achieve their goal.

Find out more at Keep Bali Beautiful.com

Regreening Bali: One Bamboo at a Time

Murni Plantiing Bamboo in Songam Village

Murni Planting Bamboo in Songan Village

Many families in Songan Village B will get a lift out of poverty thanks to the efforts of Kadek Gunarta of the Bali Regreen project, and his team of skilled community organizers and agricultural experts.

 Bali Regreen will plant more than 4,000 bamboo shoots donated by the good people of John Hardy Silver in Songan Village B.  In seven years, the bamboo will grown into stalks wide enough to sale at the market.  This is a huge opportunity for the farmers here who scratch out a living from the dry soil.

Sonang Village B farmers

Songan Village B farmers

Even before seven years, farmers will reap benefits.  Village leaders estimated they purchase about $3,000 a year of bamboo for ceremonies and other uses which soon will be avoided costs.

This program is much more than planting bamboo.  It takes a whole village to keep this crop alive.  Bali Regreen organized a seminar with the local farmers to teach them how to grow and maintain the plants.  BR staff will check on the plants monthly, and provide ongoing seminars for the farmers.

Dhemy Revving Up the Crowd

Dhemy Revving Up the Crowd

A group of about 30 volunteers from Bali Spirit Festival, Yoga Barn and John Hardy helped with the planting.  Some were better at it than others. At the end of the day, there were thanks all around.

Weak, but enthusiastic

Weak, but enthusiastic

New Zealander Andy with new friend

New Zealander Andy with new friend

John Hardy crew

John Hardy crew

Klungkung Eco Clubbers Meet Bye Bye Plastic Bag Team

bye bye

Eco Club leaders from SMA1 Dawan and SMA1 Semarapura traveled to Kuta today and were inspired by the Team from Bye Bye Plastic Bag, a group of middle school miracle workers whose goal is nothing less than banning plastic bags in Bali.

Bye Bye Plastic Bag and Klungkung Eco Clubbers

Bye Bye Plastic Bag and Klungkung Eco Clubbers

Their strategy is just as audacious as their goal.  They are in the process of collecting ONE MILLION SIGNATURES on a petition to ban plastic bags in Bali.  If they can meet their goal, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika has agreed to impose the ban.  If you would like to sign their petition, please click here.

SMA1 Dawan Eco Club leaders

SMA1 Dawan Eco Club leaders

Our Eco Club leaders and the Bye Bye Plastic Bag kids are planning to work together to solve the problem of plastic pollution in Bali.  Stand aside grown-ups.  Watching these kids in action, I have no doubt they will achieve their goal.

We were also able to sneak in a little fun too with a diversion to the beach at Sanur and to this silly tempat foto.

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SMA1 Semarapura Students Take the Recycling Pledge

SMA1 Semarpura's Principal kicking off our recycling education event

SMA1 Semarpura’s Principal kicking off our recycling education event

The Eco Club students at SMA1 Semarapura organized their first recycling event last Friday for the 11th grade class of 200 students.  They created a very compelling powerpoint presentation.  The school principal strongly promoted the event…and I did my thing as Head Cheerleader of Keep Bali Beautiful.

Getting Silly for a Good Cause

Getting Silly for a Good Cause

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Our message was simple.  The plastic and other trash from 4 million Balinese and a like number of tourists is killing this beautiful island.  It’s poisoning the air and water, killing the animals and will eventually destroy the economy as the tourists opt for cleaner places to vacation.

We then ask who can solve this problem.  The students looked around at their teachers, their principal and finally at one another.  We told them they are the solution to Bali’s pollution problems and they could Keep Bali Beautiful.

Having Fun and Learning About Recycling

Having Fun and Learning About Recycling

They believed, and took this pledge:

Saya Berjanji Untuk Jauhkan SMA1 dan Bali Indah

Dengan Daur Ulang Sampah

“I promise to keep my high school and Bali beautiful by recycling plastic, paper and glass garbage.”

Eco Club Co-President Reny making her case

Eco Club Co-President Reny making her case

Our Eco Club leaders will go on a field trip next week to see where the garbage they collect is taken to be recycled, and to see a legal and illegal dump….We’re making progress here one high school class at a time.

If you’d like to help please, go to Keep Bali Beautiful.  

Experiments In Truth and Recycling

With apologies to Gandhi for stealing his book title (Experiments In Truth) sometimes launching a recycling program in Bali seems harder than achieving independence from England.

But then I spend time with Balinese young people.   The enthusiasm, energy and commitment they bring to the goal of cleaning up their school and village just makes my heart feel lighter and the hurdles seem less daunting.

SMA1, Semarapura is our fourth school partner.  We’ve learned we need three key ingredients to be successful:  1) A willing principal.  2) One or two student leaders and 3) The ability on our ashram’s part to build the facilities (recycling stations and storage sheds) on time and deliver reliable weekly trash pickup service.

Two of our three Co-Presidents of Eco Club SMA1

Two of our three Co-Presidents of Eco Club SMA1

Principal Pak Putu, and his successor, have been willing partners in establishing the recycling program at their school.  Our ashram coordinator Wayan Wysasa identified three student leaders to create Eco-Club, our Ashram Manager, Kadek Donal, managed the building of the bamboo recycling stations and we finally have found a village man with a pickup to be our trash collection man.

We launched the recycling program at SMA1, Semarapura with a kick-off meeting with the principal Pak Putu, our Ashram founder Indra Udayana and the school’s young leaders.  Here’s a video that shows excerpts from the launch.

As you saw, we built a lot of enthusiasm, and ultimately recruited 60 Eco Club members.  These students will manage the recycling program at the school.  Most importantly they will educate their peers about the value of recycling.  Our goal is not just to clean up the school, but to build a cadre of young leaders who will change the environmental ethic in Bali.

Our new Eco Club logo

Our new Eco Club logo

The recycling stations are built and will be delivered next week.  Eco Club is scheduling a Field Trip to see where the plastic, paper and glass is taken after they recycle it, and most importantly the Eco Club tee shirts have been ordered.  Rule Number One:  You can’t Keep Bali Beautiful unless you have a club t-shirt.

Can you help?  This campaign takes some cash to keep it rolling…Not a lot, but we need to pay for the recycling stations, the pickup driver and of course the t-shirts.  If you have a few extra rupiahs, please click here.

Bali Eco Club’s Field Trip…Keeping Bali Beautiful

 

Eco Club Members from SMA1 Dawan (High School) at Temesi Recycling

Eco Club Members from SMA1 Dawan (High School) at Temesi Recycling

On a field trip last week to recycling centers and one of the island’s most eco-conscious businesses, 30 high-school kids from Dawan, their principal and teachers learned how their school’s recycling efforts fit into the larger picture of cleaning up plastic pollution to Keep Bali Beautiful.

And we had a lot of fun.

Eco Clubbers on the Bus

Eco Clubbers on the Bus

SMA1’s Eco Club just recently launched the school’s recycling program in partnership with Ashram Gandhi Puri.  The Club members are responsible for doing the recycling itself, and educating the school community why we need to beat plastic pollution and Keep Bali Beautiful.  

Our first stop was Temesi Recycling which takes our plastic, glass and paper garbage.  They then sell the high value materials to recyclers in Bali and ship the lower value waste to Surabaya where it is recycled into new products.

At Temesi Recycling

At Temesi Recycling

 

 

 

Separating plastic from household garbage at Temesi

Separating plastic from household garbage at Temesi

At our next stop, the team at Bali Recycling showed us their very efficient operations, and then took us to visit an illegal dump in Gianyar Regency which has filled up a river with garbage.  The kids were outraged at this illegal and institutionalized practice which is polluting the river and the land.

Illegal dump in Gianyar Regency

Illegal dump in a riverbed, Gianyar Regency

Our final stop was in Ubud where Yoga Barn co-founder Kadek Gunarta told us the story of how his business uses environmentally-conscious practices.  He also described the success story of how his village and its families and businesses have launched a comprehensive system to reduce waste, conserve energy and water and recycle.  It ended the day on a very positive note.

Eco Club Partners with Kadek Gunarta at Yoga Barn, Ubud.

Eco Club Partners with Kadek Gunarta at Yoga Barn, Ubud.

We all still have a lot to learn about how to be Eco Clubbers. But we’re convinced this will be a great learning experience for all concerned.  In fact, today SMA1 conducted a village wide clean-up day where Eco Clubbers led the way in picking up and recycling plastic and other waste.

The SMA1 Negara Dawan recycling program is a partnership between the school and Ashram Gandhi Puri.  Our other key partners are Ahimsa In Action which funds the project, Temesi Recycling who takes our separated waste and Yoga Barn which contributed our program’s recycling stations and storage shed at cost.

If you would like to help grow our Keep Bali Beautiful program, please consider a donation to Ahimsa In Action.  Your donation is tax-deductible in the USA.  Go to http://www.AhimsaInAction.com  and click support at the top right of the home page.

Our Principal, Kawenuh and Pak Dave

Our Principal, Kawenuh and Pak Dave

Lunch at Yoga Barn

Lunch at Yoga Barn

Sorting the garbage at Temesi

Sorting the garbage at Temesi

 

Keeping Bali Beautiful

Clean-Up with our Partners at SMA2 High School

Clean-Up Day with our Partners at SMA2 High School

 Plastic pollution is a huge problem in Bali.  It seems that every river, every beach, every village, every temple, and every household is becoming blighted by discarded bottles, bags and other plastic rubbish.

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Our first step was to clean up our own act.

You must be the change you want to see in the world.”  -Gandhi

At the ashram we decided that enough was enough.  We researched whether there are credible plastic recyclers on the island, and there are, and we put together a deal with them to pick up our plastic garbage.

It took some time for our ashram members to grasp the concept of recycling after a lifetime of simply throwing rubbish on the ground.  But after a couple of months they caught on and embraced it.

We knew there was a breakthrough when Kadek and Komang returned from a weekend trip to their village to tell us how much they hated the “plastic sampah,” littering their home, and what a shame it was that the villagers didn’t recycle.

We really knew we had made progress when Kawenuh talked his high school principal into starting a recycling program.  Kawenuh also took the lead in organizing an Eco Club at the school to operate the program and educate all of the students at the school.

SMA1 Eco Club

SMA1 Eco Club

We’ve now begun to expand our little recycling operation into more schools and hopefully our village of Pakse Bali. We’re hopeful of making progress, but our eyes are open to the many obstacles we will face….of which we will keep you posted.

If you’d like to help with our Bali Recycling Program, go to: Ahimsa In Action