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December 15th 2009
Published: January 19th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY


Even when there are bins, most still ends up on the street.
Indonesia has a huge garbage problem. On the streets, in drains and waterways, in the sea and on the beaches, I have never seen so much litter.

Indonesian people have always littered but plastics have replaced biodegradable packaging. International Maritime Organisation MARPOL 73/78 Annex V prohibits dumping of plastics anywhere into the sea. Unfortunately, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei and Myanmar have not acceded to Annex V. I travelled on a Pelni ship from Flores to Timor and all garbage bins were upended over the stern and into the sea. Plastic bottles, styrofoam trays, plastic spoons, bags and wrappers, food waste, everything and a trail of garbage in our wake.

Local television presents a fantasy world that is modern and clean, where people are wealthy and glamorous. Indonesians are particular about personal appearance and hygiene. They aspire to be modern but most live in dirty towns and cities. Garbage is very visible and everyone just ignores it. The culture of littering is entrenched. At least people don't shit everywhere.

Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world. It is the arse end of Southeast Asia. Not all of the country is bad but travelling can be hard and sometimes disappointing. The problems of overpopulation

When people just don't care. Economy class on the KM Awu to Kupang.
seem to only become bigger with time. I wish that school kids could be disciplined not to litter and that garbage services could be improved. Change can happen. Travellers should repeatedly remind Indonesians that we don't appreciate garbage. Nobody does. In Bahasa Indonesia: Saya benci sampah! (I dislike garbage).


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