Traveling sometimes does not make it easy to be environmentally friendly – especially when the place you are traveling to are remote islands! Here are some easy ways that you can help the earth while traveling to the Gili Islands, but these tips apply for traveling anywhere!
1. Bring your own refillable water bottle
One plastic bottle takes hundreds of years to decompose, and unfortunately many of them end up in our oceans. The simple act of packing a reusable water bottle on your travels to the Gilis (or wherever you’re headed) is one of the easiest ways to cut back on your single-use plastic consumption!
If you forgot to bring a water bottle on your travels, there are many places on the island that offer them for purchase! We sell our own water bottles, and you can get one at many dive shops around the islands, including our partnering dive shop Oceans 5 Dive!
The water directly from the tap is not great drink on the Gilis, so you might think that plastic bottles are your only option to stay hydrated. Don’t worry, Gili Shark Conservation has got you covered! We’ve partnered with RefillMyBottle on Bali and local businesses here on Gili Air to create several “Refill Stations” around the island. At any of our partner businesses you can refill your water bottle for free or a small fee. You’ll be saving the planet. And money! Perfect combination!
Another option that can help to further reduce your plastic consumption is to purchase your own water filter. These come in a variety of sizes, that can easily fit in your bag, and allow you to filter tap water so it is safe to drink!
2. Skip the single-use plastic straw
Sucking on plastic straws has severe consequences for the creatures of our Oceans. They are one of the most commonly used single-use plastic products and as a result, one of the biggest ocean pollutants. You’d be shocked to see how many we pick up during our beach clean ups on Gili Air! Did you know that the average American will use around 500 plastic straws in just one year? That’s more than 1 a day – crazy! The majority of the time, a straw isn’t even necessary to drink your beverage!
If you are at a restaurant, try and remember to ask for no straw. It’s a simple change that can make a big impact. If you really like to suck and not sip, get yourself a reusable straw! Bamboo, metal and glass straws are now widely available on the market. Many of the restaurants on Gili Air are saying no to single-use plastics and will now only only serve your drink with a bamboo straw! Great for those Instagram shots and the environment!
3. Always bring a reusable shopping bag with you
With plenty of beautiful boutiques and unique market stalls on the Gili Islands, you are definitely going to want to do a bit of shopping! Making sure you’ve always got a reusable bag with you is the quickest way to avoid using more single-use plastics.
Perhaps you’re excited to try your hand at Indonesian cooking, or want to make yourself something simple at your homestay. When heading to the local markets for fresh fruit and veggies they’ll give you plastic bags, so make sure you have your own ready. Reusable bags are really cheap and extremely easy to store, most fold up small enough to fit on a key ring! Plus, they’ll last you a lot longer than a plastic bag!
4. Know the ingredients of your sunscreen and use reef-safe products
Did you know that the sunscreen you use to protect yourself can actually be extremely damaging to our coral reefs? Studies have shown that even one drop of sunscreen can have a detrimental effect on the health of coral.
The sun is strong in Indonesia, of course you need to protect yourself. It is super important you wear sunscreen and keep yourself protected whilst on the Gili Islands and any other tropical place. But, there are plenty of reef-safe sunscreens out there to choose from. They are all natural and will not cause any damage to the coral. Using reef safe sunscreen is a great way to keep yourself and our coral reefs healthy. Follow this guide to make sure you are buying sunscreen that will be safe to wear in the water!
5. Join a beach clean up
A great way to make a difference and get involved with conservation on the Gili Islands is to join a beach clean up! The consumption of single-use plastics is an issue on a global scale, with much of this plastic ending up in our oceans. The strong currents that bring the nutrients that supports the unrivalled marine biodiversity of Indonesia, also unfortunately, will ll bring trash to our beaches from all over the world.
Why is it important to keep our beaches clean? It’s not just for looks!
The Gilis are known as the “Turtle Capital of the World”. Sea turtles come to the Gilis to lay their eggs. If our beaches are not clean, the hatchings will struggle to find their way to the ocean safely, and sometimes if a beach is too polluted, a mother sea turtle will decide not to even lay her eggs there. The two types of sea turtles that are found around the Gilis are the Green and Hawksbill Sea Turtles. Both are on the endangered species list. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that the beaches of the Gili Islands are kept clean so we can support the survival of these amazing creatures!
How can you get involved with a beach clean up?
There are lots of options across the Gili Islands for travellers to get involved in a beach clean up. We, at Gili Shark Conservation, partner with different local businesses every Saturday to help clean up a specific area of Gili Air. Anyone is welcome to join – the more hands the better! But we aren’t the only ones who are trying to keep our island home clean. Several dive shops and other local businesses will also host their own weekly beach clean ups.
Do you like to scuba dive? Join an “underwater” clean up!
Another way you can get involved with cleaning up the Gili Islands is to join a Dive Against Debris! What is a Dive Against Debris? Just take a mesh bag with you underwater and collect any trash you might see on your dive – simple as that! This program was started by Project Aware, the Gili Shark Conservation research team goes on a Dive Against Debris every Friday to our adopted dive site Meno Slope! We aren’t the only ones who participate in this program though, many dive shops on the island host weekly Dives Against Debris that you can join, and some even offer it for free!
If you want to know what conservation events are happening on Gili Air each week, check out the Gili Shark Conservation Facebook page. We share the weekly events each Monday and will always keep you updated on all the latest events to help keep our island a plastic free paradise!
Marine conservation isn’t just about what’s under the water, it’s about the actions you take on land as well. Following these 5 simple steps on your travels to the Gilis will help keep our island beautiful and help keep our marine life as healthy as possible!