Garbage in Paradise

Poor, developing nations typically have a difficult time financing a system for garbage pickup and disposal. Even beautiful tropical places known as tourist destinations face this problem; outside the meticulously groomed resorts, piles of garbage often rot in the hot sun. The island of Bali, part of Indonesia, is a prime example. Bali's growing population produces more than 5,000 tons (4,536 metric tons) of garbage each day, much of it plas

Even tropical locations, like the island of Bali, can have difficulties disposing of its garbage. In this photo, piles of burning garbage have been dumped next to a rice field in Bali.

tic bags and containers. Yet the island still has little in the way of trash services or pickup, and what is collected is dumped into a huge, unsanitary landfill. As a result, the trash piles up on riverbanks and in mangrove forests, leaching chemicals into the environment and creating a visual blight. And during the wet season, winds blow garbage from the ocean onto Bali's beaches. Resorts often hire workers to scour the tourist beaches and other areas, removing bits of trash, but outside the resorts, the only real waste management comes from scavengers who climb through garbage dumps looking for anything they can use or sell. In the future, Bali residents hope that growing public awareness and green technology will help reduce the island's garbage problem.

Even tropical locations, like the island of Bali, can have difficulties disposing of its garbage. In this photo, piles of burning garbage have been dumped next to a rice field in Bali.

waste is hard and dirty, but for many it is more lucrative than the alternative."41 This trash trade is a growing international industry.

However, for the people living in the importing nations, there is a dark side to these trash deals. Usually, the trash is sent to countries that have few environmental or health regulations or little enforcement, allowing the foreign garbage to be handled in ways that expose local people and their lands to dangerous toxins. As China Greenpeace spokesman Jamie Choi explains: "China has become a big dumping ground for rubbish from Britain and other countries. A lot of the waste is toxic and sorted by migrant workers who are not protected from its effects."42 British journalist Oliver Harvey describes visiting the Chinese town of Mai, known as Plastic City for its mountains of trash:

There is a constant caustic stench amid the thick plumes of dark smoke. Dozens of factories and smaller outfits alongside ramshackle homes melt down recycled plastic. Many locals believe the pollution is ruining their health and even causing birth defects. One 25-year-old woman worker, who did not want to be named, said: "We know that it is really bad for us here. Every morning we wake up coughing to try to clear out our throats. But we have no choice—we need the work to support our families."43

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