Everyday Plastic in Bali
I am one of the millions of human beings who contribute to destroying the environment.
It sounds dramatic, but for me bringing my own container when I’m in suddenly in the mood for some street-side mung bean porridge is just such a hassle! So, I end up using their disposable plastic.
When my stomach rumbles and I crave for some tipak cantok (rice cake wrapped in a coconut leaf pouch with peanut sauce), I can’t enjoy it without my two portions of kerupuk, or crackers. Sadly, they are only ever sold wrapped in plastic, at Rp.1,000 a piece.
In the early days of its creation, plastic was a man-made solution so that we could reduce our dependency on other natural resources. For example, based on www.sciencehistory.org, in 1869, John Wesley Hyatt invented the ‘synthetic polymer’ that replaced the raw material for billiard balls that used to be made of ivory. Everyone can celebrate this.
In 1907, Leo Baekeland discovered Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic whose molecules were not found in nature so that it could be produced alone without the help of natural materials. Bakelite is considered stronger, heat resistant, and can be used multiple times.
Then, between the 1960s and1980s, plastic’s “angel” status was stripped away with the discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, said to be the size of Texas. The anxiety increased with a new found understanding that with heat, waves, UV light and bacteria, this said garbage patch has now been broken down into micro-plastics, which apparently we are all enjoying through our seafood.
“The level of micro-plastic in Indonesia’s oceans is only 30-960 particles per litre,” according to Reza Cordova, a researcher from the Oceanographic Research Center of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (P2O LIPI) who surveyed 12 areas of Indonesian waters from 2015 to 2017.
Here I present a series about the plastic that is part of my everyday life, which serves a reminder. Now I have begun to reduce my use of plastic as much as possible, but such practices must become habitual, remembering to say “no straw, please”, when I order a drink, for example. These will come over time.
In the life of a modern human, I don’t think we will ever fully escape plastic. However, we can take note from Balinese philosophy to help us on our journey to becoming plastic-free. We should adapt the Palemahan concept of the Tri Hita Karana, the three ways to happiness or harmony from Balinese Hindu philosophy to our lives. ‘Parahyangan’, a good relationship between human and God; ‘Pawongan’, the relationship between humans; and Palemahan, the relationship between humans and environment. The environment can also be translated into ‘sekala’ (seen) such as the nature and ‘niskala’ (unseen) the spirit around us.