So you are organising the trip of a lifetime, and on the way, you plan to dive around the Gilis? Brilliant, but have you ever thought of the fragile ecosystem you’ll be diving into?
“There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometre litter the deep sea.” – National Geographic.
Don’t let us kill your vibe, though! There is a way YOU can help, and it doesn’t take much effort or time. So what better way to spend your vacation in paradise getting a beautiful tan, seeing hundreds of turtles and helping out the marine ecosystem all at the same time!
So here it goes, Compass Divers’ top five tips on how to be a more eco-friendly person. Like I said: easy peasy, no worries.
1. Don’t use plastic bottles / straws / bags.
Plastic, plastic, plastic. There is so much of it on our planet now. We don’t need anymore, and we especially don’t need any more in our seas. Unfortunately, plastic is still used commonly all over the world, and that is no different here on Gili Trawangan. That being said, if you are offered a plastic bag just say no. Use those arms you’ve got dangling from your body, or even better, the lovely baskets on the front of your bike.
Also, when you order a drink ask them not to add a straw. Just use your mouth, it will still taste as good! If you feel very strongly about the need for straws (listen, a mojito sometimes needs a straw), you can purchase reusable glass, steel or bamboo straws from multiple retail stores and restaurants around the Gilis. And then there are those plastic bottles you’ll be getting your water in… I guess you’ll just have to drink Bintang instead!
2. Reuse and refill water bottles.
So as divers we know how imperative it is to keep hydrated, whether diving or spending your day in the hot, hot sun. So all jokes aside, it’s a great idea to buy a reusable water bottle from one of the many shops on the island or bring your own from home. At Compass Divers we now have a refill station too. Reuse, refill and recycle!
3. Clean up the beach or pick up litter while diving.
When you are on the beach topping up your tan, why not have a quick look around to see if you can pick up a strewn bottle or old Pop Mie pot. It takes just two minutes to put it in the bins which are conveniently located along the whole of the beach strip. There are even options for recycling Bintang bottles.
Or maybe you have an hour or two to spare and want to fill up your day? Bale Sampan and Gili Eco Trust host weekly beach cleanups that last about an hour. Not only do you get to give back, but you can make like-minded friends and even get rewarded with a free Bintang at the end! Clean beach, free beer, win-win! For those of you who plan on spending most of your time underwater: yes, unfortunately, we sometimes see rogue plastic bags, or someone’s lost flip-flop.
But, if you see something that’s not supposed to be there, grab it, put it in your BCD pocket and take it back to the dive shop where it can go nice and safely in the bin. There. You’ve just saved a turtle from mistaking rubbish for a scrumptious dinner.
4. Don’t touch the sea life and don’t take it home.
This is a biggie! Imagine if a shark or a turtle came up behind you and started rubbing your back. You’d probably be scared, and you may even react by never wanting to get back in the sea again. And what a shame that would be! The ocean is not our home, and the marine ecosystem is extremely fragile.
As a guest, have respect for the place you are privileged to visit. The best rule of thumb to follow while snorkelling or scuba diving is not to touch anything or take anything back with you. Lay back (or forwards), relax and enjoy the show. A key phrase to remember is to “leave only bubbles and take only photographs.”
5. Tell other people / Gili Shark Conservation / Gili Eco Trust
Now you are almost the perfect Gili Eco-Warrior; it’s time to tell your friends, your family and the world! Don’t be ashamed, take these tips back home and carry on with your good deeds. Not only will it benefit you, but it’ll also benefit everyone living on our beautiful planet! Some places in Gili who are committed to making the Gilis a better place to live and visit are the Gili Eco Trust, situated on Gili Trawangan.
These guys recycle, recycle, recycle! They also organise weekly beach cleanups and support volunteers who focus on making the island more eco-friendly. Maybe you take a look at what they are doing, every donation helps. Another great organisation is Gili Shark Conservation. As Sylvia Earl said, “Sharks are beautiful animals, and if you’re lucky enough to see lots of them, that means that you’re in a healthy ocean. You should be afraid if you are in the ocean and don’t see sharks.” These guys track and keep an eye on the beautiful white and black tip reef shark populations, who are protected around the Gilis. Head over to Gili Air for more info and to see how you can get involved.
There you have it. Now you know five ways that you can become a Gili Eco-Warrior. So let’s get those fins on and practise what you’ve learnt. Compass Divers prides itself on its dedication to caring for the world they dive into every day. They love to see visitors using their refill water tank and making a conscious effort to keep hands and fins off the corals. We want to be able to keep diving in the Gilis, with no marine life there’s no point…