One Trash Less from Each of Us, Earth Will Be 8 Billion Trashes Cleaner

Amy Djafar

2 min read

If we preserve nature, nature preserves us. That is a principle from people who believe human and nature are mutually supporting each other. But those words mean little with people keeping on massively exploiting and damaging the environment.

In 2017, I and some diver friends dived in Samalona Island, a spot part of Spermonde area, a twenty-minute travel from Makassar, the capital city of South Sulawesi. The sea in Samalona clearer than water around Makassar City which is oily, dirty, and has too many inorganic rubbishes. While not too many trashes in Samalona shore, we still found plastics deep in the sea and many coral reefs are damaged. So, we must search for good coral reefs into approximately 15-20 meters depth.

Fortunately, we found many schooling and turtles. But, when we swam together, suddenly we heard an explosion, shocking the turtles which hit into coral reefs to hide. Actually, I was shocked also but we could not communicate in the sea. So I kept my question until we reached the surface. My dive instructor said the sound was a fish bomb in the radius of tens kilometers. It’s audible because water can be a conductor of sound.

Several years after, we dived in Fakfak, West Papua. The coral reefs here were even healthier than Samalona Island, but it still filled non-organic rubbishes, especially in Fakfak City’s shores. We tried to collect plastic waste and hauling it ashore every time we dived.

Ternate, North Maluku, was not so different from Fakfak City. Although on the city shore it looked clean and has many seagrasses, a sign of a healthy sea, deep down in the sea we found plastics too. Moving to port in the sea surface, we saw many floating plastics blending with fish. For sure it disturbed the marine biota, especially coral reefs growth.

Ocean defender Greenpeace Indonesia which collaborated with Hassanuddin University’s Marine Science Diving Club (MSDC) have also carried out underwater activities in Spermonde Islands area, Barang Lompo Island, Barrang Caddi Island, and Kodingareng Keke. Base on their observations, the damages caused by bombs and anaesthetic material were quite obvious.

The destruction of coral reefs become big issue in climate change. The Indonesian Research Science Institute’s Oceanographic Research Centre stated in 2012 that 30.45 percent of coral reefs in Indonesia has been damaged.

From this data, we tried to make small action. Before Covid-19 pandemic hit Makassar, around 300 divers took part in the coral reef transplantation program called Garuda di Lautku (Garuda in My Sea), which was initiated by Makassar Navy base, Lantamal VI Makassar.

Coral reefs transplantation tied coral reefs in shape of Garuda Bird replica around Kodingareng Keke Island, Makassar, South Sulawesi. The replica which is 40 x 40 meters in size and 2 to 3 meters high has been installed at 6-18 meters in depth base on underwater contours.

The problem is coral reefs are very easily damaged, but the growth is very slow, reaching on 1 centimeter per year.

Coral reefs have many functions to sustain human life and the environment. They provide food for other creatures which in turn become the sources for human food. They are source of high protein. They help reduce global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide and have strategic function for coastal life, while serving as natural breakwater in bad weather like cyclones and hurricanes in the ocean.

I read a meme somewhere, saying “I only throw away one piece of trash.” That’s a statement of more than 8 billion people living on the earth. It satirizes human apathy on the existential threat the waste is posing, especially those of the non-organics.

Imagine if everyone is apathetic, what will happen to the earth for the next generation?

It does not mean we don’t need plastics, detergents, or something like that, but using as minimal as possible and not exaggerating with the consideration of the maintaining the balance of the nature, is always a good effort than do nothing.

Nowadays several efforts have been made by a number of people or communities like transplantation coral reefs. They clean the sea, and embark on zero waste lifestyle, etc. But it means nothing if it is not integrated.

The integrated actions should include reducing development in the coast, taking policies in slashing deforestation, prosecuting against those destroying the environment, living in zero waste lifestyle, and manufactures producing plastics must prepare with solutions.

Although, environmental destruction is also caused by the nature itself, the biggest perpetrator is human.

Starting from ourselves and our own very lifestyle is what we can do and control as good behavior should not just about human to human, but also human to nature.

Are we going to live by continuing to accelerate the destruction of nature which will ultimately affect all of us too? Or we can try to reduce the rate of damage with our action. Even if it is small but if is done consistently and  globally together, it will be a great service to the nature.

Amy Djafar

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