A Surfers Guide to Plastic Free Travel

1 Posted by - October 27, 2015 - Learn, Salty Times

Indonesia is a magnificent archipelago with thousands of islands. Exploring and spending time around Indo is a life changing experience. We spent the last two months there. Surfing, snorkelling, diving and taking it all in.



Shortly after arriving it was hard not to notice the mass amounts of litter and waste everywhere. It was overwhelming seeing plastic pollution on every beach and in the rivers leading down to the ocean.


We started to pick up litter as we crossed it, but soon it started feeling as if what I was doing was pointless. I was picking up plastics along the beach, but huge quantities were left behind. I would look for somewhere to dispose of  it and the dilemma was, if I put it in a bin, that bins contents would either be burnt or dumped in a pile somewhere. So it started to feel futile.

This made us both start to feel as though the problem was too big, which was a depressing thought. This is a beautiful, magical place and it was such a shame to see it trashed.


There is a lot of reasons why waste is such a major issue that is out of control. Partly it’s a mentality problem. People just dump rubbish anywhere since there is no clear waste collection system. Of course it isn’t just locals that are contributing to the waste problem on the islands. It is tourists as well. It’s hard to be a visitor to a country and see waste everywhere and then be expected to do things differently. So often visitors are just as bad and leave litter everywhere.

not thinking

A woman, taking a photo of the sunset with her plastic water bottle beside her. 4 other bottles left as litter right beside her.


What was a big shock to us is that it was Surfers that were part of the problem. There were many times where we saw surfers using plastic water bottles only to leave them behind (even at the beach). It was the thousands of discarded plastic straws, bags, bottles, cigarette butts and other plastic packaged crap that travellers were adding to the major issue of waste on these islands.

What we couldn’t get our head around is that if you travel around the world to visit a foreign place, wouldn’t you want it to be clean, beautiful and to strive to leave only footprints behind you? But also as a surfer who is connected so deeply to our Oceans it seems like we should be the ones striving to lead by example and change the status quo of wasteful travel. For the sake of our oceans and our health as surfers we need to be creating a positive example, especially when we travel around the world.

The stat that really hit home was that ‘3o million plastic bottles are used on the island of Bali every month’ – that is EVERY MONTH!

30 Million

From the moment we step foot in Indo we vowed to try and leave as little impact as possible. We came up with ways to reduce our waste, and our plastic consumption. It wasn’t hard and once we started doing it a few others started catching on. So we decided to put a few of our top tips on plastic free travel in an infographic.



You can check it out here and feel free to share it around. The more surfers and travellers that reduce their negative impact when they travel, the better – For both future travellers and for the planet. ( Right click and save as to download it)

Surfers Guide to Plastic Free Travel


  • Pandora Jones October 27, 2015 - 11:58 pm Reply

    This was a really interesting read! I had no idea how much plastic was left on the beach in Indo! Can you believe I am finding the same problem in Gozo, Malta? I went to the beach a few days ago and the plastic bottle was the worst. So, so many. As well as fishing nets and plastic rope. Making people more aware and to start questioning the use of disposable plastic bottles. Earlier this year I invested in a Hydro flask and I try my best to only use this. Thanks for sharing, Jamie!

  • Chantae November 10, 2015 - 2:25 pm Reply

    Ah, this is super helpful. I love guides like this – generally I find saying no to straws as the hardest thing to remember. I usually forget until it’s too late and my drink has been served with a straw 🙁 If just a few people start making plastic-free travel a trend, things would improve a lot.

    Southeast Asia is one of the hardest places to travel plastic free, I found. It’s everywhere. The infographic helps a lot though!

    I felt similarly on the issue (feel free to remove the link if it’s against your comments policy as I’m not trying to spam :P!) http://www.chantae.com/worst-thing-indonesia-trash-problem/

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