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Wasted Collective is working to solve Bali’s waste issues

Bali, known as the Island of the Gods, is a tropical paradise that beckons over five million tourists each year, including 1.2 million Australians. Whilst tourism is booming, Bali also has a waste problem. 

In 2018, Bali banned single-use plastics, but even with this initiative, only around 60% of Bali’s waste is disposed of properly. Last year alone, 33 thousand tonnes of plastic waste made its way into Bali’s rivers and waterways. That’s 90 tonnes per day that may end up in our oceans or littering Bali’s beautiful beaches.

Step up Wasted Collective. Founded by Ronald Akili, co-founder and creator of Desa Potato Head. Desa Potato Head is the embodiment of Ronald’s dream of building a creative village (desa means village in Bahasa) that is also a five-star resort with a zero-waste goal.

In line with Potato Head’s philosophy of ‘Good Times, Do Good’, Wasted Collective transforms Bali’s waste materials into both functional and stylish products such as furniture and now even shoes, with initiatives focused on reimagining waste into sustainable products along with community engagement to foster a longer term mindset and solution.

Join a beach clean-up in Bali

It’s 7.30am, and I’m waiting at Desa Potato Head’s Jamu Ba to join Wasted Collective’s Morning Beach Clean Up. Described as a ‘leisurely walk with a balanced approach’, it sounds like my kind of morning exercise ahead of a busy day’s work schedule. We each take a sizeable calico bag, sling it empty across our shoulders and walk down onto Petitenget Beach in front of the resort. It’s already busy with tourists and locals alike, enjoying the cool morning sand before the heat of the day kicks in.

We stroll along the beach towards Seminyak, chatting as we go. I learn more about Bali’s waste issues while I collect rubbish and place it in our calico bags. In go bottle tops, plastic bottles, discarded face masks, plastic wrappers and more, some discarded on the beach itself, others either washed up from other islands onto this beautiful beach, or having made their way here via waterways and rivers. It’s a stark reminder of one of the challenges our planet faces, not just in Bali, and one that we can all make a difference. Whilst I’m collecting rubbish that others may have carelessly discarded, it’s strangely cathartic.

Imaginative upcycling

With our bags soon full, and the sun starting to rise higher in the sky to herald another beautiful day in Bali, we head back to Desa, where we visit the on-site waste facility. Here, our waste will be sorted and processed before being upcycled in imaginative ways, evident from a stroll around the resort. Even our event name tags swing from colour-specked plastic beads made from the very waste products I’ve just collected, strung on the elastic gathered from discarded face masks. Stylish, as well as functional.

Wasted Collective organises community clean-up events across Bali, often featuring local DJs and local musicians, walking the talk of Potato Head’s mantra ‘Good Times, Do Good’, encouraging both community and visitor participation. One of their major projects is the Waste Centre, set to open this year. The Waste Centre will provide waste management education and resources to local communities, with the goal of reducing waste that ends up in landfills.

Every little bit helps, and, whilst mine are just small steps on Petitenget’s sands this morning, together with Wasted Collective’s initiatives, I know I’ve made a small difference to Bali’s plastic waste issues.