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Padangtegal Village in Bali pioneers a zero-waste revolution, inspiring sustainable waste management practices across Indonesia and beyond.

In stark contrast to the prevalent waste management issues across Bali, Padangtegal Village has emerged as a beacon of sustainable waste management practices. In a country where much of the waste is dumped in ravines, to be subsequently washed out to sea by monsoon rains, this village has adopted a remarkable zero-waste policy, spearheading a quiet environmental revolution.

Since 2015, Padangtegal has embraced a policy where all waste is recycled or composted, largely thanks to the vision of local resident I Made Subrata. Concerned about the volume of waste being produced in the village, Subrata advocated for a series of simple changes that he believed could make a substantial difference. His plan was grounded in the principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle, with various programs instituted to support these three Rs.

Unlike much of Bali, Padangtegal has shunned single-use plastics, promoting the use of reusable shopping bags among its residents. Recycling programs have been established, covering everything from plastics to metals, while food waste is composted, and later used to fertilize village gardens and crops. This approach to waste management is proving its worth in the numbers, with just 5% of the village's waste ending up in landfills in 2018, compared to the national average of 70%.

In addition to significantly reducing waste, these strategies are also contributing to the local economy, creating jobs and raising environmental awareness in the process. A robust education and outreach program reinforces the importance of waste reduction and recycling, with children especially encouraged to participate in recycling workshops and composting demonstrations.

Padangtegal Village’s waste management system is based on the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. The village has a number of programs in place to reduce the amount of waste that is produced. For example, the village bans single-use plastics and encourages residents to bring their reusable bags when shopping. The village also has a number of recycling programs in place, and residents are encouraged to compost their food waste.

Beyond its own borders, Padangtegal's successful waste management system is serving as a model for other communities, both in Bali and internationally. The number of villages across Bali adopting zero-waste policies is growing rapidly, testament to the effectiveness and impact of Padangtegal's approach.

According to Happy Eco News, among the larger villages that have embraced zero-waste policies are Tegaltirto Village in Gianyar Regency, Seseh Village in Canggu subdistrict, and Sawan Village also in Gianyar Regency. These communities, with populations ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 people, have been practicing zero waste since 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively.

The success of these villages, and the increasing number of others following suit, serves as a potent illustration of what can be achieved through education, community engagement, and innovative waste management practices. The hope is that the low-waste model pioneered by Padangtegal will continue to inspire other communities in Bali, and perhaps even other islands in Indonesia.

While it remains uncertain how quickly this waste revolution will spread, the potential is vast. With the right support and continued commitment from residents, these environmentally conscious practices may well serve as the catalyst for more widespread change in the way we manage and think about waste.

Eunice is a sustainability writer whose passion is sharing accessible eco-friendly practices with GreenCitizen's global readership. She enjoys birdwatching during her downtime, often deriving inspiration from nature's resilience. An enthusiastic cyclist, she is also an ardent advocate of eco-friendly transport.

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