■ text by Bartosz Och | photo by Zak Noyle


“I kept on thinking I would be seeing a body of some type of animal or something float by.” says surf photographer Zak Noyle who searches the world looking for the perfect wave and the perfect picture.

This picture of Indonesia’s most famous surfer Dede Suryana gliding through an enormous trash-filled wave off the coast of Java shows not only how deceptive travel brochures can be by showing us pristine clear waters and golden sand beaches, but also what a huge impact we have on our environment.

Every year eight million tonnes of plastic go into the ocean. This data is confirmed by a report from 2015 which identifies 12 places from which majority of the oceanic trash comes from. On top of the list are China, Philippines, and Indonesia.

Waters full of garbage can be observed not only in Southeast Asia—says biologist Nicholas Mallos who runs a program called “Trash Free Seas” at the Ocean Conservancy organisation.

“Accumulations like these are unfortunately the norm,” says the researcher. “Especially in the developing parts of the world where we have to deal with a growing middle class living along the coast, demand and consumption increase, and the lack of proper waste management.”

Although the garbage remains a global problem, Mallos sees a light at the end of a tunnel. For example, voters in the US state of California upheld the ban on the use of plastic bags. Also in Indonesia, there was a change of consciousness. There is pushing a group of stakeholders who are trying to solve these problems. In other words, the tide may yet turn back.

But should we regain the course of our destiny, we must do more. Bans on the use of plastic bags are a contributing, but not the only factor that can positively impact our environment. modern capitalism continues to perpetuate the notion that we need to consume, dispose, and replace to maintain a healthy economy. Unfortunately, the very same system that favours global economy takes a big toll on our planet. You may be asking what is there you can do to help. Every single action, big or small, contributes to a bigger picture. To some of us having to give up certain things or change our habits sounds like too much to ask, especially if like me, you are a privileged white man or a woman from the West. But in some of my previous posts, I explain the benefits of becoming minimalist and also why I adopted a vegan diet. That may seem like a bunch of nonsense to a lot of people, but the way we shop, eat, dress, dispose, etc. can and does, in fact, have a big role in the “Human vs The World” pantomime.

Let me know if you have been to Indonesia and what are your thoughts on the issue of trash-filled waters. Also, do you have any advice as to what can be done to save our environment?