Our Dream for the Generations to Come: A Plastic Free Paradise

Our Dream for the Generations to Come:
A Plastic Free Paradise

Everyone has a different idea of the word “paradise”,  some imagine a meadow bursting with colorful flowers and the sound of birds chirping in the trees. Some picture a vibrant village full of happy faces and the sound of children’s laughter as they play and explore. Others think of a silent island bordered by coconut trees with white sand beaches met by crystal clear waters full of diverse life. But one thing that is the same in everyone’s idea of “Paradise”  plastic does not belong there right?

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Calling paradise your home

We feel quite lucky to have found our idea of paradise and we are even more lucky to be privileged enough to call it home. Gili Air, Lombok is a truly special place and in our eyes “Paradise” is the perfect word to describe it. This magical island brings us and many others so much happiness every day; from the smiling friendly community that welcome us with love, the beautiful diverse marine life inhabiting the coral reefs of the dive sites we get to visit every day to the picturesque sunsets that mark the end of each day and stimulate the question of “what will tomorrow bring?”.  

“What will tomorrow bring?” is the big question

Imagine if this beautiful place lost its magic, if the local community couldn’t work and lost their smiles due to life struggles of living in an unpopular plastic coated island, if the marine life disappeared and the reefs were left dead and empty with only marine debris calling them home, if the sun started setting on the Paradise we know today and rising on a different version of Gili Air, if “Paradise” became only a memory told to our children about a place they would never know.  

In theory the above should never happen, we are a clever species with the power to influence the future in a great way, so why do we find our self worrying that the loose of “Paradise” could become a reality?

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It is our responsibility to act now, not later!

It has been estimated that over 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally and a total of 22 billion plastic bottles end up in landfills each year, more the 1.5 million pounds of plastic is being dumped in the ocean per hour and  around 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans from land each year. Are these figures not alarming? Where do you think this plastic ends up?

We have all seen the effect of debris both on land and in our ocean, weather it has been a video on social media showing a manta ray entangled in a ghost net, a picture of a diver surrounded by plastic floating past them as they explore a reef or firsthand sightings of plastic stuck in trees or laying on the side of the road as we stroll past.

Why is this acceptable? What will happen if the issue is never faced? Do we just leave it for the next generation to deal with? It’s likely that by then “Paradise” will have already been long gone. That is why it is our responsibility to act now, not later!

Working hard to make dreams reality

About a year ago our research team started up the “Plastic Free Paradise” campaign here on Gili Air with the dream to educate the community in plastic free solutions, offer alternatives to one use plastics and introduce initiatives to minimize the need of one use plastic products.

We introduced “Refill Gili” to Gili Air, an initiative set up in Bali and adopted by partner projects in neighboring islands to reduce the plastic bottle demand. We communicated the initiative with businesses across Gili Air and with their support we have been able to create over 50 refill stations where people can go and refill their reusable water bottles for a small fee or for free, these stations are easily found on the refill app and on the refill map making them accessible to everyone.

Offering free education for everyone!

We also started offering all of the businesses on Gili Air the opportunity to sign up for our free “Plastic Free Training” a training offered in bahasa Indonesian to educate the community on the negative effects of plastic on our environment and to provide a guide to easy plastic free alternatives that everyone can adopt to help reduce the amount of plastic waste as a community.

Children are the future and we recognize that providing education from a young age can help to inspire positive change for the long-term health of our planet for generations to come. Our research team are very privileged to be able to visit the school on Gili Air each week to host a conservation class. The name of this class is Club Harapan of which we have 70 members attending every week to learn about the environment and get involved with conservation efforts. It is incredible to see these young shark advocates grow and gives us true hope for the future.

Get involved!

Furthermore we organize a community day every Saturday afternoon, it could be a presentation, up-cycling workshop or beach cleanup but we always have something planned which we invite everyone to join. Normally we try to collaborate with a business on the island to get more people involved and try to bring the community together. All events are listed on our monthly community day calendar which advertises all eco friendly events taking place on Gili Air throughout the month. For the latest edition check out our Facebook page

It’s a beautiful thing to watch so many people taking initiative and going plastic free. And we are sure that the next generation will call Gili Air a Plastic Free Paradise.

Would you like to get involved, do you have suggestions or learn more about our Plastic Free Paradise campaign? Just send us an email at sharks@gilisharkconservation.com

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