Gili Asahan Beach Clean
April 2017, Gili Asahan, Indonesia
Duration: 90 minutes
The waters of Indonesia are choking with inorganic trash. Some of this is ocean-borne; pushed towards the area by prevailing winds.
Most however is the result of trash that is simply dropped throughout the village, along the beach and off fishermen's boats.
Our objective was to engage the community to clean a 200m stretch of beach and encourage the children to change their littering behaviour.
Twelve small islands (Gilis) lie just off the Sekotong Peninsula in the West Lombok Regency. They are called Gili Nanggu, Gili Sudak, Gili Tangkong, Gili Poh, Gili Genting, Gili Lontar, Gili Layar, Gili Amben, Gili Gede, Gili Anyaran, Gili Layar and Gili Asahan.
Scarcity of time allowed for only one afternoon to be dedicated to the beach clean.
On arrival at Gili Asahan, the local primary school teacher was contacted. We asked that the school children be brought to the beachfront to assist with the beach clean at 1pm.
Approximately 30 young children turned up and their parents watched on. The children were partnered with the 11 visiting volunteers and each group given sacks to fill.
The beach was then parceled up, using the anchor-lines of fishing boats as visual dividers and groups were challenged to see who could fill the most bags with inorganic waste.
After one hour, 200m of beachfront had been cleaned all 20 bags filled. These w
ere then presented to the Eco Lodge for disposal before the children accompanied the teacher and parents to the school.
Inside, we presented the school with new sports equipment, which was donated by SUP Wilderness Adventures guests (the volunteers). This was deliberately gifted to the school in a bid to encourage student attendance.
Big Kanu's captain then acted as a translator to communicate to the children and their parents how the ocean that they swim in is the same one that laps Australia's northern shores. Hence, our futures are linked and we need them to help us keep it clean for all creatures to enjoy.
200m of beachfront cleaned of inorganic trash
Collected trash sorted for recycling and removed for disposal
Community awareness raised
We selected Gili Asahan is the island to undertake a beach clean due to existing conservation projects being undertaken by local businesses and community organisations.
It is important to us to be working in with existing services and supporting their work. It is also essential for any trash that is collected to then be disposed of properly, and the most efficient means of doing this was by partnering with Gili Asahan Eco Lodge.
Gili Asahan Eco Lodge has a longstanding commitment to waste reduction, recycling, and educating the local community about responsible waste disposal.
Yacht charter company Big Kanu (based at Gili Asahan), provided charter services to SUP Wilderness Adventures. They assisted with coordinating for the waste we collected to be sorted and sent for either recycling or proper disposal.
The Gili Asahan Primary School mobilised local children to assist with the clean up and SUP Wilderness Adventures clients took a hands-on approach to meaningful travel.
SUP Wilderness Adventures purchased rice bags from the local Eco Lodge at a cost of approximately Au$1/ bag ($20)
Gardening gloves were purchased in Australia to protect the hands of volunteers during the beach clean. These were an additional cost of Au$3 each ($33)
Total cash outlay: Au$53.
It was never expected that a single beach clean would solve the enormous challenge facing the world as a result of plastic pollution. However, by working in and supporting local initiatives, it is hoped their ongoing community education efforts will be strengthened.
Tourists staying at the eco lodge (totally unrelated to our group) joined us in the beach clean and subsequent presentation. It is hoped their experience will encourage them to undertake similar actions elsewhere and will increase consciousness of their own consumption habits.
It was noted that following the clean up, some of the adults in the village also started picking up trash and placing it in the bins and sacks provided.
Ultimately, it only takes one water bottle cap to kill a dolphin or one plastic bag to kill a turtle. By removing 20 sacks filled with such waste, we know our token gesture will at least remove those objects from causing harm.
Two Llamas and SUP Wilderness Adventures will continue to work in with local community groups to encourage community behavioural change.
Since departing Asahan, we have partnered with environmental group Trash Hero. As they have done in Komodo, we are looking at how we might fund the provision of metal water bottles to the Asahan community, so that drinks can be sold to the community using reusable bottles rather than plastic bags with straws or plastic cups.