Cleaning Bali a bottle at a time

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If you haven’t seen Pixars Wall-E, than you need to, because it’s a sad but very real possibility of our future.

“How good is that movie!” says Western Australian University student Christine Parfitt.  She and a handful of other volunteers have begun their small but important contribution to preventing the Wall-E movie from becoming a reality.

Bali is Australia’s favourite next door neighbour, being an absolutely loved tourist destination; it has developed more quickly than its environment can keep up with. Garbage is an overabundance throughout the Indonesian island and is sadly affecting its beauty and the health of the wildlife and human population.

The litter of Aqua-cups are present and visible throughout Bali.

Tap water in Bali is undrinkable which means a large contribution of the garbage comes from empty plastic water bottles, in particular the non-reusable 240ml Aqua-cups which are used and littered by Indonesian school children.

“Kids would literally finish their drink and toss the cups over their shoulder. They just haven’t been taught any other way.”

Christine began volunteering in Bali as a part of her university research, hoping to focus on turtle conservation, not having much luck in that department she met Pak Yasa, an award-winning Balinese primary school teacher focused on environmental education, with whom she created the charity Bottle for Botol.

The winning design for Bottle for Botol.

Bottle for Botol aims to eradicate the horrendous Aqua-cups, and exchange them with a sustainable and environmentally friendly replacement. The Bottle for Botol team came up with the idea of supplying the school children with 500ml stainless steel reusable water bottles that can be filled up from a main drinking-water source at the school.

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Botol is the Indonesian word for bottle, how the charity works is that for every bottle purchase by an Australian they are paying for a personal bottle and buying one which is supplied to an Indonesian child.

“The charity is about more than just the bottles; it’s about educating the Indonesian children of the harmful effects of litter and waste and teaching them the importance of sustainability.” States Parfitt.

SMPN#1 Mendoyo school receiving their stainless steel bottles

“We have partnered up Australian primary schools with primary schools in Bali, and we have created a competition to make a design for the water bottles. This way the Australian kids are educated as well, and they can get involved with buying and selling water bottles to their families and friends, whilst supporting a good cause.”

Australian and Indonesian schools not only learn about environmental sustainability but are able to have international engagement. From talking to Christine, it’s clear that it has taken a lot of work to get the program underway, from raising the money; to making the water bottles; to spreading awareness.

Australian schools supporting the Bottle for Botol charity. 

“Its finally coming together, we have just had our first shipment of bottles delivered to all the students and teachers at SMPN#1 Mendoyo a school in West Bali. They have a partner school in Australia, Billanook college who provided all the support to make this happen.”

The goal was to make a plastic free July, which is in rapid progress; Mendoyo is now the first aquacup free school in Bali.

Check out Bottle for Botol’s facebook page here, and their website here.

Hannah Beard is a journalist based in Perth, Australia.