The Balinese rely on environmentally conscious western brains to get a different perspective on innovations. One has to understand that Indonesia has been dictated for so long. The people were kept from thinking individually, let alone voicing their opinions. Therefore, not only a new way of thinking needs to be introduced, we rather need to start from the bottom to encourage individual thinking and actions. Skepticism used to be dangerous in a dictatorship, but in today’s democracy non-skepticism is way more harmful both to the people as well as to the environment.
We lead our team in a constructive way, incorporating different ideas and suggestions, all the way from the management down to all departments. We teach them to tell us whatever they think can or needs to be changed, improved, or innovated. By leading our team according to this mindset, we teach them to take this new approach home to their families and make them aware that not everything they are told is true or can be digested without chewing. We take away the fear they used to live with for so long.
To give you an insight on how far behind the ideas of local authorities are compared to the Western world, here are some “innovations” that require a critical attitude:
- Concrete bins are provided for every household to facilitate the burning of all garbage.
- Local authorities considered a ban on the purchase of new cars to decrease traffic and pollution.
- No efforts on public transport is made since the idea of a magnetically levitated train was abandoned due to the fact that it would be running higher than the temples.
- When gullies over-flood, the waste blocking them – mostly plastic – is taken out, and as the water starts flowing again, they throw it all back in.
- Traffic jams due to absolutely unorganized traffic, poor road systems and no rules.
- Indonesia is so rich in natural resources, so all electricity on Bali comes from caloric power plants burning incredible amounts of coal.
- No unleaded fuel is available.
- Fertilizers and special seeds are subsidized to boost the crop.
Let’s break it down bit by bit. Concrete garbage bins were installed by local authorities in Canggu to give the locals a chance to burn all their trash, regardless of what garbage it actually is. However, by sticking to a strict code of waste separation, there is not too much left to burn. Plastic, metal, paper and glass can be recycled, organic waste is either fed to the pigs or is composted. What remains is compound products (plastic/paper/metal) and other “small stuff” that could easily be burned in institutions with according fume filters, possibly even with the chance of producing electricity. Plans along those lines exist and are reinforced by Australia and Japan, however the bureaucratic mills here turn slowly – hopefully steadily – and the corruption level is immensely high. Along with more westernization, there is a bright future, but once again, change has to start at the decision whether to burn it all in the concrete bin or rather separating it and starting the cycle. We try hard to tell our team, but trying is not enough. We lead by example
Next point: the environmental minister proposed a ban on the purchase of new cars to decrease traffic and pollution. Wow. What a bright idea. Let us drive those old fume-spewing wrecks until they cannot possibly produce any more of those fumes anymore. What a great idea to decrease traffic and save the environment. Congratulations. Do you see what we are dealing with here? Can you get a glimpse of how low we need to start hooking in here? Imagine, this comes from the highest ranks, someone who has been elected into this position – the question is by whom, because Indonesia, at the latest investigation, again managed to get a 9 out of 10 what concerns corruption… What do we do about it? We are critical and skeptical and encourage our team not to just say yes and accept. We open our mouths rather than shutting them.
Public transport is an issue that needs to be addressed here on Bali. Most of the locals have a motorbike, because they have to have a motorbike. There is no public transport available, at least not for short distances, i.e. going to work. Therefore, pollution and traffic jams are programmed. What do we do about it? We only employ people who live close by. We allow and encourage them to team up in car pools to save petrol and fumes when they are going to festivities or ceremonies. And we tell our team to reflect upon how little the government does for them. And we also tell them to reflect upon the fact that parts of their religion are so out-dated and ridiculous, like the fact that a magnetically levitated train is a complete no-go even though it would have been the best solution for Bali: fast, cheap (internationally substituted), hardly any space is taken up, and big enough for everyone.
Traffic jams are a consequence of the lack of public transport. However, if some simple rules were implemented and reinforced, traffic would flow. We need parking, so all shops, restaurants or businesses cannot be built right at the road but have to be set back, allowing cars and bikes to park. We do not need superbig SUVs here on Bali with narrow roads. Drivers must do a driving license, not buy one. Only then can basic laws of how to get traffic flowing be maintained (zipper system, no crossroad blocking, etc), jams will be reduced, and a large part of the fumes would be a part of history. What do we do about it? We educate our team and they take it home to their families and friends. We ask them if it is really important to buy the biggest SUV after having sold yet another ricefield.
Driving from Java to Bali, you cannot miss the huge power plant “Java Power” on the northeastern shore. It is monstrous. What is even bigger are the mountains of piled coal around it, even floating in the sea. Of course, it is logical to get electricity from caloric power plants, given the fact that Indonesia is one of the richest countries what concerns natural resources. Sure, dig it up and burn it, the smoke is as black as the coal. But what they do not think about is that they are surrounded by the Indian Ocean with big and powerful tides, that they are situated in the middle of the constant trade wind belt, and that the sun shines every day. These are better natural resources than anything else, because there is no end, they will never finish, all that needs to be done is invest in knowledge and dare taking a turn where many stay straight. What do we do about it? Well, this is a hard one. We need to team up. This is a global issue, one of the major ones. All we can do is follow petitions, stay alert and support organizations who do something about it.
Fuel. Fumes. Lead. This is just a hint at an ever-present problem of third world countries: rich in natural resources but poor in refining them. Oil is drilled and exported as crude oil, to be bought again as petrol for a high price. Unleaded petrol has to be further refined, costing more money, therefore unattractive for already strained budgets both of the country as well as for the private person. Solutions could be building refineries, which costs a lot and what is impossible to do without the help of other countries. Help in the form if intelligence, education, and training of local staff. Help could also mean internationally subsidized setups of such plants. The crucial point here is that whenever a product is selling, why let the consumer get in touch with the factory, let alone teaching him how to build that firm. But what really needs to be understood is that not a country would be helped out, but that our planet would be saved. What do we do about it? The only way forward in this matter is supporting organizations who have means and ways to get closer to the ones responsible, and who can reach a broad public that stands up and voices their opinion so loud that it cannot be overheard.
Yes, also on Bali fertilizers and special seeds are subsidized to boost the crop. We are talking about whatever crop, be it veggies, rice, corn, grain. Monsanto is not as strong here as in many parts of the world, but fertilizers surely are. The Balinese farmer is amazed at how fast the rice grows with just a bit of spraying, with just a bit of powder, and all of a sudden three crops per year are easily yielded. Again, it is the dangerous combination of no skepticism no criticism and no education. Farmers as well as consumers are unaware puppets, dancing to the pace of their masters who are perfectly aware. In the end, they all suffer from it, their bodies are poisoned and they have to deal with diseases previously unknown. Even though we get all our supplies from organic farmers who stand up against that establishment, who work their fields with good beliefs and the right intentions, even we suffer from it. What can you do if your neighbor sprays and the wind blows to your field? Tell him, make him aware, and ask him whether or not his health and the well being of his family and customers at the market is more important than those extra bucks. And where do all rivers run? To the ocean, that’s correct. Do fish also grow faster and bigger when breathing rice fertilizers? It’s all up to you, stand up against it and chose the products you can justify. Choose the farmers you buy from, choose the restaurants you eat in. Make your choice.