How expats can support local communities and natural eco-systems.
As travelers we love to explore new places and have exciting adventures. We journey to Bali for many reasons, healing, surfing, rice fields, waterfalls and of course the super crazy nightlife. However it’s not often we stop and pause to think about our impact on the environment.
In Bali we can see the damaging effects of plastic and land clearance on agriculture. Even the villa's we stay in were once natural homes for plants & animals. As expats it’s easy to identify a lack of education and recycling facilities but we also have to take accountability for creating the demand and for over consuming.
“Here in Bali we don’t blame anyone. Plastics help us. If you give a sharp knife to a mother it can help her cook, when you give it to a baby it can harm the baby. We need to use plastic properly and recycle it in the right way…” - Wayan Wardika.
It’s time for us to become eco-conscious travelers, using tourism to support local communities not just in wealth and profit but also sustainability.
Taro village is leading the way!
Taro village also known as Pusering Jagat ‘The Center of the Universe,’ is home to over 2500 families. Taro village believes in serving the local community and environment. Relatively untouched at the moment from tourism, Taro is taking the opportunity to provide an authentic Bali experience for travelers supporting the natural eco-system without damaging the land.
We met Wayan Wardika aka ‘The Land Healer’ on a recent green bike tour around Taro Village. Wayan, an ex Disneyland crew member traveling across the world on a cruise ship, returned to his local village after twelve years away from home only to find the rivers he used to play in as a child, filled with plastic and rubbish. His eco-friendly journey began when he witnessed a local man dumping rubbish into the river and asked him to stop when the man replied, “but where do I put it?” This sparked Wayan’s goal and passion to help educate and support the local community to becoming greener…
“It was very difficult at first, no one wanted to talk rubbish!”
It started with Rumah Kompos recycling facility Wayan created. Wayan went to 200 local families to start educating them on separating their waste. He taught the 3xR method, reduce, reuse & recycle. He would then take the waste to his faculty for a small fee that employed 7 people (before CV19) and organized the waste - reducing the amount sent to landfill by over 90%. The 90% was separated into recyclables sold to factories for reuse and into organic fertilizer, both cow and sheep dung to use as a bio-pesticides for rice fields. Wayan doesn’t believe in killing anything, “once you kill things everything starts to disappear.” Wayan uses his organic pesticides on his fruit & vegetable farm, Kebun Organik, helping feed local families.
“I want to empower people, I want to teach people that this is not just my problem, but everyone’s problem, we can work together. It’s not too late…”
Wayan’s non-profit faculty and education to the local community has had such a big impact that the Desa of Taro (local government) became involved creating a larger faculty and making it compulsory for 2500 families to recycle their waste. “My parents didn’t go to school, they don’t understand climate change or what happens to waste so there’s a generation gap. That’s why we focus on teaching the young.”
Now the waste problem is a collective issue in Taro village Wayan has moved into eco-friendly tourism. “It’s low risk. You can enjoy nature and experience the beautiful life in Bali. We don’t need more hotels or villa’s, there’s enough in Ubud & Canngu. When you do eco-friendly tourism you don’t have to worry about paying back expensive overheads like rent. You can be conscious of your impact on the environment and create an unforgettable experience for people without harming the land.”
Taro village has so much to offer, bike rides across beautiful fields and local villages, organic cooking classes, waterfall trekking, jewelry making and our favorite thing of all – The Fireflies Conservation Garden! Did you know that fireflies are not actual flies but beetles from the Lampyridae insect family? Unfortunately due to habitat degradation, pollution and toxic pesticides the Fireflies are slowly dying out. Wayan says,
“If my son, my grandson, and his children don’t get to see fireflies it would be such a shame. It would hurt my heart. They are the jewels of the night.”
The firefly’s garden is located in the heart of Taro village. You can book to have a romantic meal for two watching the beautiful sunset over a mystical river. Most of the meal comes from the organic farm you’re eating on, garden to table (cooking classes are available). When the sun goes down you can see the magic of fireflies communicating to each other by blinking. Fireflies indicate a healthy eco-system, clean air, fresh water and lots of plants. Wayans goal is to have The Fireflies out of the conservation garden and roaming freely across the rice fields shortly. He is helping to support eco-system with his organic pesticides and enlisting the help of the local farmers. The garden hosts other activities such as learning about ‘Subak’ the natural water system based on supporting Mother Nature, Farming & Gardening, exploring the Coffee Plantation and making Jamu & Loloh. There are many other activities across the village.
For accommodation you can stay in the firefly’s garden on a beautiful property designed in the 17thcentury called ‘The Komang Petak home stay’ or in Wayan’s ‘Tegaldukah Camp.’ Twenty years ago Wayan’s father planted palm tree’s there that have grown into beautiful giants (you can also see his father climbing the tree’s to cut down the juice made for alcohol – it tastes great) you can sleep under the trees in small raised tents.
As travelers we come to Bali to explore, both nature and ourselves, I couldn’t recommend a better place to start that journey than with Taro Village. We can visit beautiful places and experience authentic Bali without damaging the natural eco-system. Let’s be conscious travelers…
Written by Amy Manson
Photographer Jonathon Jackson
Tours can be organized for the recycling faculties as well as a full day trip of activities across Taro Village.
For more information:
Whatsapp: +62 87861445333
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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The firefly research is supported by ‘The Faculty of Biology (MIPA) of Udayana University, Denpasar.