A group called One Island One Voice led a massive organizing effort to clean the beaches of the Indonesian island, Bali. Treehugger reports that on Saturday, over 20,000 people gathered to clean up more than 120 beaches around the island's perimeter.
The get together is actually an annual event, which unites the community in protecting one of their most beautiful resources:
The amount of waste collected is still being counted, but last year, 40 tons of trash were collected by about 12,000 people in only 55 locations. With the number of people and locales participating increasing, the haul probably will too.
The Guardian reports that this isn't a once a year effort—organizers from OIOV want the event to bring awareness to how tourism is affecting the ecological environment of Bali, and the enormous amounts of trash created by visitors, businesses, and local inhabitants. The organization serves as a kind of umbrella for all sorts of local groups who are working to promote a “greener, cleaner Bali."
Rima Agustina, one of the event's coordinators, told reporters, “This event is not only a cleanup action, it is a chance to raise awareness and understanding about what really happens in Bali."
She added, “All it takes is one or two hours of picking up trash and for most people the mindset is completely transformed. They would start thinking that those single-use plastics give more harm than benefits to community.”
OIOV also got local artists and musicians involved by creating a campaign song called "Satu Pula Satu Suara" or One Island One Voice:
Though the trash problem is partially created by visitors, the constant presence of said trash had harmed tourism. Sara Craves, an OIOV spokeswoman, explained that some tourists say they won't return after seeing how much plastic waste washes up on the beach. However, Bali has only five legal waste sites, yet hosts an enormous amount of people coming in and out of its hotel developments. A lot of waste gets burned or dumped in the mountains or rivers.
The waste collected by OIOV last Saturday will be taken to proper recycling centers and sorted for recycling, upcycling, or converted into EcoBricks. What's important to organizers isn't so much the waste that is cleaned up in a single day, but the number of people who are reached by the message that things have got to change, before Bali's ocean and beaches are consumed by plastic waste forever.