University Students Take Pledge to Keep Bali Beautiful

IMG_3290

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

Where Does the Plastic Go After I Recycle It?

IMG_3035

SMAN 1 Semarapura’s Eco-Club members run a very successful recycling program at their school.  They recently asked me: Where does the plastic, paper and glass we recycle at our school travel to after it leaves our school? To answer that question we put on our new Eco Club T-Shirts, hopped on a bus and traveled to Bali Recycling in Mas, about 30 minutes away.   Here we learned that 90% to 95% of the waste we send to them is recycled into products such as handbags, wallets, shoes, pallets, glasses, sweaters etc.  The remainder that can’t be recycled is sent to the Temesi Landfill where it is responsibly managed.

Olivier teaching us about what happens to what we recycle.

Olivier teaching us about what happens to what we recycle.

Founder Olivier Poullion walked us through the whole process from when the material arrives at Bali Recycling through how he converts the garbage into pretty cool products.  He urged us to think about our waste as a valuable commodity that with some creativity and technical know-how really does have monetary value.

Reycycled Paper for Bags

Reycycled Paper for Bags

Beautiful bags from recycled plastic

Beautiful bags from recycled plastic

Recycled wine bottles become cool glasses

Recycled wine bottles become cool glasses

Olivier recently won an award for a cool new application he is developing that will allow kids (and others) to sell recyclable waste directly.  More about this when the program gets up and running.

Eco Club Team with the Bali Recycling Crew

Eco Club Team with the Bali Recycling Crew

We also visited with Supardi the Manager of Rumah Kompos Padangtegal near the Monkey Forest in Ubud.  His operation is really the whole package.  They process more than 600 kg per day of waste from the residences, hotels and restaurants in their village.

Composting waste from the village

Composting waste from the village

They compost the organic waste, recycle the plastic, glass and paper and what they can’t reuse, they send to Temesi.  Kudos to the village of Padangtegal and Pak Kadek Gunarta of Yoga Barn for setting up and subsidizing this venture through ticket sales at the Monkey Forest.

Eco Clubbers with Rumah Kompos Padangtegal Crew

Eco Clubbers with Rumah Kompos Padangtegal Crew

After viewing these two very positive examples of how Balinese are responsibly managing their waste, we also were exposed to a more negative garbage scene in a village near Ubud.  Here an illegal dump is being operated.

Illegal dump near Ubud.  Garbage has filled a riverbed more than 12 feet high.

Illegal dump near Ubud. Garbage has filled a riverbed more than 12 feet high.

Instead of paying the slightly higher cost of shipping waste to a responsible facility, it is being diverted into this riverbed where it is polluting the land nearby and will eventually deposit refuse throughout the whole length of the river and down to the sea.  The SMA1 kids were appalled this was happening, and couldn’t understand what was wrong with the grownups who were allowing this to happen. Finally, we stopped for a very tasty lunch at Warung Mina where we discussed what we had learned.  Our principal Pak Suamba said he was inspired to start a compost operation at his school to compliment the ongoing non-organic recycling program.  The Eco-Club members were inspired, thinking about reaching out to middle schools in the neighborhood, and dedicated to keeping their school and island Beautiful. IMG_3083IMG_3082IMG_3085IMG_3086

Pak Dave with the talented staff at Warung Mina.

Pak Dave with the talented staff at Warung Mina.

Keep Bali Beautiful!!! Head Cheerleader Pak Dave

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.

IMG_2985IMG_2982

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

IMG_2953

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.  

The Summit: Leave it to the Gods

DSC00090

Only the five best climbers were chosen from our group to challenge the summit.  I must have been number six.  I missed the cut and was bitterly disappointed.  But, the summit climb is very rugged and dangerous.  Two days before some hikers were literally blown off a ridge top.  When Wyasa told me he had tried the summit, but had to turn back I didn’t feel so bad since he’s about ten times stronger than me.

So instead of getting killed, I spent the day at the hot springs.  Thank God for being Number 6.

soak

At the moment this photo was taken, I had this perfectly warm spring all to myself.  Minutes later I was joined by 25 villagers from central Lombok.   These villagers were Muslim and dirt poor.  They had brought some food, a few plates to share and a pot to boil their rice.  They were planning to catch fish at Anak Laut to supply the bulk of their food. They were ecstatic about their upcoming vacation.  Of course they were surprised to find a white guy occupying their spring.  But we talked and joked for an hour.

Drying fish

Drying fish

DSC00163

DSC00076

In America I might have been ticked off that 25 strangers invaded my space. But after living in Bali for 2 years, I’m used to the lack of privacy. It was fun in camp.  Everywhere I went people invited into their tents for coffee or a cigarette.  All these conversations started out exactly the same.  For the first five minutes it was all about exchanging information: Where did I live? Where was my wife?  How many kids?  Where was my wife?  When was I returning to Bali?  Where was my wife?  Did I like Lombok?  Where was my wife.  This is all pretty normal.  Indonesians want some basic information on where to place you.  Read Indonesia, Etc. by Elizabeth Pisani to get some funny insight on this.

DSC00127DSC05969

But even though my language skills are still weak, I could have some conversations.  I talked to a young architect about the techniques he uses to prevent his buildings from falling down in an earthquake.  I asked everyone if they liked Indonesia’s dynamic new president, Jokowi.  Most did not.  80% of Lombok voted for Jokowi’s opponent.  I talked to a man who holds down two jobs as a teacher and hotel employee, and wants to learn the Hindu slokas (chants).  I talked to a young couple who brought their eight-year old daughter with them on the trek.  They are middle class, but still stressed about the basic economic needs of putting food on the table and sending their daughter to school.

DSC00186

Our final ceremony involved two fun events.  First, a group of brave young men jumped into the chilly lake.  They retrieved two stoppered bottles that had been placed in the lake the previous day.  The mystery would be to see if these bottles had filled with water. Miraculously, as they do every year, the bottles returned filled with holy water (tirta).  We cheered.

Counting the coin and jewelry offerings

Counting the coin and jewelry offerings

The second ritual involved collecting coins and jewelry amounting to several hundred dollars which would be given to the Gods of the lake as an offering.  We cheered again as another group of brave men swam out to give this gift.

Then we went to bed early for a 3am wake up call.  4am prayers…and 5am hitting the road.

The way out started with a two kilometer climb to the ridge top.  Wyasa and I started early, and avoided the traffic jams.  At the top one of the old guys yelled down: Stop Smoking and Keep Walking.  That’s because almost all of the young men would walk like rabbits for about five minutes and then stop for a cigarette break.  They are “Smoking Bunnies”, he told me.

Just five minutes before the end, the rain started.  We had achieved one of our key goals.  Our prayers had been answered.  It rained all the way back to Mataram, and I’m not sure if the rain has stopped since.  These guys really know what they are doing.  Places suffering drought, like California, might want to consult them.

bersepeda-motor-saat-hujan-ilustrasi-_131023184456-256

We hopped back on the bus.  Smoked a couple of clove cigarettes. And then the young guys dropped off to sleep sprawling across each other.  They may be Smoking Rabbits, but at that moment they reminded me a lot of puppy dogs.

Our porter Made

Our porter Made

Father and son porter team who also helped us.

Father and son porter team who also helped us.

Wyasa

Wyasa

DSC06022DSC06023IMG_2835IMG_2834DSC05993

Fog rolling  into the lake

Fog rolling into the lake

DSC00087IMG_2836IMG_2840DSC00128

In Peril at Panjor Mas… Pak “Spiderman” Dave Cries

Wyasa Leading the Way

Wyasa Leading the Way

As a warmup for the summit, I was invited on the trek to Panjor Mas which I was told was a quick jaunt around the lake to the base of the summit. I suppose my Indonesian language skills are not nearly as good as I thought because somehow I missed the part about this being an “extreme” hike.

Mommy!!  Ibu!!!

Mommy!! Ibu!!!

I probably should have gotten a hint when only 31 people all much younger than me met for a prayer before the hike, and then we stopped again to pray an hour later.  It was after that second prayer that things became quite hairy.

Yikes

Yikes

The first extreme section at least had handholds and footholds. I inched along  footholds about an inch wide until reaching some half-submerged thin logs for the remaining part of the traverse.  Tough, but manageable.  I gave high fives all around, and figured that we had conquered the major challenge.

But of course I was premature because the next hour required technical climbing skills, strength or both.  I had neither.  I glued myself against the rock face, and tried to avoid looking down at the cliff and lake below.  Wyasa was guiding me from in front with Gede in the rear.  At two points, there were simply no handholds or footholds to be seen.  I gasped, “Where do I put my foot next.”  To which Wyasa answered:  “Be like Spiderman Pak Dave.”  To which I responded with the few Indonesian swear words I know, plus some familiar English ones…and then I wanted to cry.

So all those many hours of prayers paid off, and I slowly made like Spiderman across the abyss.

 

At Panjor Mas

At Panjor Mas

Our destination was Panjor Mas which is spring fed by a waterfall born on the summit of Rinjani.  We took a bath in the spring waters, and gathered holy water for a ceremony. Beautiful and very powerful place with the partially cloud covered summit rising thousands of feet above us.

A word about garbage

Sadly, every step of the way from our base camp to Panjor Mas has been through tons of plastic garbage.  It’s particularly difficult to deal with mess at camp when cooking and eating. There seems to be little or no awareness of this blight on the part of my Balinese friends who just seem to ignore it.  However, when I picked up the garbage around our camp, my friends joined me.  There was really not much we could do but burn it which was better than just throwing it on the ground.  I asked some new friends in nearby tents what they thought, and they were also concerned but stumped at what to do about it.  We got into a conversation about the ashram’s recycling programs.  They started to get excited about doing something about it, and we resolved to get together to see what we could do to start a recycling program in Mataram.  We’ll see.

In the meantime, we are living in harmony with the rubbish.  Even the holy water from Panjor Mas came to us from a funnel made from a discarded plastic water bottle.

Plastic garbage funneling holy water at Panjor Mas

Plastic garbage funneling holy water at Panjor Mas

How the Balinese deal with Evil and Other Bad Stuff

There are just so many things I don’t understand at all about this culture, and one of them is dealing with evil and dangerous animals.  On the first day I was walking behind one of the mangkus.  I was wondering why he had a plastic bottle filled with rice hanging by his side.  Right about then, he stopped abruptly and threw some rice onto the side of trail.  Curious.  And then I saw a small cobra slithering off the trail.  The rice was a way to symbolically feed the snake so that he would avoid biting us.  My initial “western” reaction was to whack the snake with a stick.

The next day I was walking with Putu and Wyasa when we saw some very aggressive monkeys harrassing trekkers just ahead.  I started to pick up some rocks to chuck at these beasts.  Instead, my friends told me to avoid conflict, and instead distracted the monkeys with some bits of apple.

Later on, Wyasa suggested that these actions of using diversion rather than direct conflict against evil or danger is deeply embedded into the Balinese culture.  He reminded me that before every ceremony evil spirits are temporarily diverted by feeding them some rice, coconut and giving them a drink of arrak and maybe a cigarette.  Balancing good and evil is important in almost every Balinese ceremony.  As a westerner, I wanted to fight the evil.  The Balinese figure this direct approach is pointless and likely to be counter-productive.

Gunung Barujari today

Gunung Barujari today

Gunung Barujari blasting its way into creation around 2004

Gunung Barujari blasting its way into creation around 2004

About Shoes:

This was one of the most difficult hikes I had endured over rugged volcanic rocks.  I wore tennis shoes, and wished I had brought my boots.  My friends hiked in an array of different footwear.

IMG_2806IMG_2807IMG_2805IMG_2810IMG_2808IMG_2811

Next: The Day for Climbing the Summit of Rinjani

The Summit of Rinjani

The Summit of Rinjani

IMG_2842