where do all those pebbles come from???

where do all those pebbles come from???

March 11, 2015

Have you ever been wondering where all those pretty rounded pebbles that you see set in paths around Ubud or in your plant pot back at home come from? No? Don’t worry, me neither, till I found their origin by a chance.

It was one morning when I went for run on the beach (Pantai Saba) in Bali, when I noticed all these women collecting something from the sand. So I stopped to look what it was that they are collecting and saw they are picking black pebbles.

For some reason I found it fascinating. I don’t think I have ever thought about origin of pretty garden pebbles that we can relatively cheaply buy at home in our garden centres. Sure, I noticed beautiful motives made of these pebbles in streets of Bali. Of course, I knew there would be a human behind the logistics. I just didn’t give it a deeper thought and imagined that there might be actually somebody sitting whole day long in bright hot sun fully covered in clothing to protect themselves from it’s rays and  carefully picking one by one, making sure to select only one size in so many.

This event made me realized just how people are capable of creating job position out of anything if needed. I got curious, what is a value of these stones and how much money these women are being payed.

So I started to ask around in my limited Bahasa Indonesia which result very confusing answers! However, I was able to find out that for one full rice sac women gets something between 50-70 000IDR = $5-7AUD. This is apparently enough to buy groceries for a day for whole family.

It apparently takes one day (with some breaks) to collect full sac (I am guessing about 50Kg). The speed of picking depends greatly on whether it is high or low tight and what size of stones one is picking up. There is demand for all sizes, however, small ones are more pricy as it takes much longer to collect. These sacs of pebbles are at the end of the day collected from all picking women by a man and taken to wholesaler.

The wholesaler sells individual 10Kg or 20Kg bags or uses them to create stepping tiles, plant pots, water features and etc, which they sell later too.

10Kg bag of pebbles about 40x20mm large cost 35 000IDR ($3.5AUD), the same size pebbles, but in 2Kg bag cost 45 000IDR ($4.5AUD). 10Kg of really small pebbles about 20x10mm cost 45 000IDR ($4.5AUD).

In Australia you can purchase decorative garden pebbles between $6 – 28AUD for 10Kg bag (Bunnings Warehouse). This price that we pay in Australia may appear to us cheap if buying one or two bags or expensive if trying to cover whole driveway with them. Nevertheless, the point is that it is ludicrous that somebody somewhere (certainly Bali is not the only place where pebbles comes from) is being payed $5-7AUD a day to be fried in the sun and to pick these pebbles.


We should treasure anything that comes in to our hands as the value of it may be greater than what we pay.




{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Andrius March 16, 2015 at 10:55 pm

Those are really cool observations and the conclusions you made really resonate with me.

Our society stopped valuing things, just because it is so cheap to us. Now we just throw away things with such ease, just to replace them with some new stuff that we will throw away also. This is a serious problem, as we are polluting our land, air and oceans and depleting finite resources..

How do we fix this? Raising awareness and consciousness is a start..

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