Even though I’ll soon be back on the island, I have to come back to my quarantine in Jakarta. Because I think we’ve stopped using our common sense! Remember I told you how everything was wrapped in plastic and the first breakfast came in plastic boxes? On my 6th day in Jakarta, when I was allowed to leave my room again, I had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. As it is a self-service buffet, everybody had to wear disposable plastic gloves to help themselves to the food. Every spoon, knife and fork was wrapped in plastic, and I guess this was just the tip of the iceberg. My mind was already picturing the pile of plastic waste that is now produced here in order to comply with safety measures, on top of all the other plastic they already used before. Any idea where this plastic waste might go? I think, I do. Much of it will end up in the ocean somehow because they don’t have enough infrastructure to deal with it in Indonesia. We will find it washed up at our beach or on a beautiful little island we go to for our coffee break between our dives.
It makes me so angry to think about that! In the long run, we may even kill more people with the Covid side effects than the virus does itself. But it will happen hidden from the cameras and the focus of the media. Marine life is already dying rapidly. Additional plastic pollution is going to accelerate this process which will result in people not making enough money from fishing or starving from lack of fish. But all this will happen quietly, because our focus is so much on the pandemic that we completely forget all our other problems, the environment being one of them. It’s insane. A little over a year ago, the big topic around the world was environment protection. Now, nobody seems to talk about it anymore. You may find a few articles and posts about how nature is profiting from decreased tourism and less air traffic. While this may be true on the one hand, it's a little too romantic, if you ask me. If we don’t manage to keep the additional plastic waste down, nature doesn’t stand a chance and we as human beings are going to suffer in the long run.
I understand that hygiene measures are important to fight the virus. But it will not be «over» any time soon, as there are new variants popping up everywhere. And we cannot continue to produce such amounts of waste for the next 10 years. It’s not fair on the next generation. They will already have to deal with many other Corona side effects, but destroying our planet is the most severe and irreversible one!
Fear is the biggest trigger of actions. And the less information we have about a threat, the more we fear it. It’s in our nature because it helps us survive. But only in the short run. If out of fear we forget to anticipate the long-term effects of our doings, it will harm us more than the original threat. I know that, when it comes to the environment, we as a global community have been doing this for decades already – just enjoy the moment and don’t think about the future. But with a crisis such as the pandemic, this behaviour has been accentuated and we need to start reversing it now. It is only in Indonesia that it really struck me because, for one, they tend to overdo things for fear of not achieving the goal. And secondly, I know that they don’t have a concept to dispose of or recycle their waste in an eco-friendly way. We also produce a lot of waste in the western world – maybe more than the emerging countries – but we invest a lot of money and technology into the disposal or recycling. Even if the main driver may be the fact that there's a lot of money to be made in new technologies. We don’t always achieve our goals either, I know. There’s still a long way to go. But we have more money and consequently more knowhow to research and build the necessary infrastructure.
I mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts that – despite the obvious negative effects of travelling – I think it still has a positive effect on the environment too. It opens up your perspective and highlights global problems that may be less visible at home. I hope that the guests who have stayed and will stay with us will not only become ambassadors of our resort but also avid protectors of the beautiful nature they still find here. If, on top of spending a wonderful holiday on Pulau Pef, they also become more conscious of environment issues, then we have truly achieved something extraordinary!
I never even dreamt of working on a remote island in Indonesia, but life has a way of taking care of itself…