Bali is famous for its abundant culture, unique sunsets, hidden waterfalls, endless tropical lush green and pristine beaches- when they’re not “trashed”.
But a couple of months ago, Bali declared a “Garbage emergency”: The Island of Gods is facing a huge waste problem due to the waste washing ashore along its coastlines, coming from the other Indonesian islands such as Java, or from Bali itself. Some banjars (village) in Bali do have waste management programs but it’s not the case for most of them. Moreover, there isn’t enough recycling infrastructure in Bali, and the majority of the garbage is either burned (which could cause health issues besides contributing to global warming) or disposed in the nature along the sides of roads or in the rivers.
It’s sad right? Don’t want to contribute to this waste crisis on your next trip there?
Here’s how you can leave less trash behind you on your next trip to Bali with these 5 easy Zero Waste tips:
1. Rocking your Zero Waste travel essentials
“Think reusable, not disposable”. The Zero Waste traveler’s 4 basic essential items are: a reusable straw, a reusable water bottle, a reusable bag, and reusable cutlery. Whether you’ll be using it to sip a coconut on the beach, hydrate yourself while exploring the beauty of Bali, shopping at the numerous local shops and markets, or to indulging yourself with delicious Balinese cuisine on the go, these four Zero-Waste essentials will help you avoid creating waste in Bali.
Otherwise, you will end up using these infamous single-use plastics: plastic straws, plastic water bottles, plastic bags and plastic cutlery. Single-use plastics are indeed (sadly) widely used at shops, bars, and restaurants in Bali. Be a prepared Zero Waste traveler! And don’t fret if you didn’t have time to stock up on your Zero Waste essentials, you can find them in Bali- at its very own Zero Waste shop.
You can also choose solid personal care products that are biodegradable and dissolve naturally in the water, such as solid soaps and shampoos and deodorant bars.
2. Staying hydrated in Zero Waste mode
Some people have asked me the following: “I get the reusable concept but what about the drinking water when travelling part?”.
My answer to that is, “You can use RefillMyBottle!”
Bali is very lucky to have an application called RefillMyBottle, which you can use to locate water refill stations around you on the map. Isn’t that wonderful? I’ve never had to buy a single disposable plastic water bottle in Bali.
The main advice from your usual travel guides would be to buy a sealed water plastic bottle while in Bali; I can testify that this isn’t necessary and on top of reducing the trash you produce, you’ll save money, too. The vast majority of the refill station places will refill your water bottle for free- yes FOR FREE! Some will charge a very small amount of money (IDR 5000 = USD 0.40). They’ll usually be using gallon water or filtered water to fill up your bottles. You can check this ahead of time on the application itself or on their website.
3. Snacking and being Zero Waste
It can be tricky to be Zero Waste when it comes to snacks- they usually come with plastic or plastic foil packaging that isn’t recyclable. And as a gentle reminder, Bali doesn’t have enough recycling infrastructure facilities so the best waste is the one that we don’t produce. Your first and easiest option is to have your snack at a local warung (restaurant) or coffee-shop. Eating-in means that no waste is generated.
Your second-best option is to buy in bulk at the local fresh market with its fresh and healthy products (fruits, nuts etc…) or at one of the bulk shops in Bali: Such as the Zero Waste Shop or Bali Buda who has a bulk food corner. Just bring along your reusable bag and/or reusable containers to store your snacks.
4. Getting around as a Zero Waste traveller
This section is part of the “invisible” waste family. I’m referring to CO2 emissions- You generate a certain amount of CO2 depending on how you get around. Walking and cycling are preferred methods of zero-waste travelling, but it’s not always possible.
You have numerous options for transportation when it comes to travelling around Bali. If you are travelling with your family or a group of friends, renting a car is probably the best option- You can hire a driver at literally every street corner in Bali. And you’re sharing the carbon emissions together, making your individual footprint much smaller. You can also share a taxi by using Bluebird, Grab or Go Jek.
If you travel solo or in a small group, you can take public transportation, depending on your destination: Perama shuttle bus is one of them, as well as Kura Kura. And it’s cheaper- A Zero Waste lifestyle really helps you save some serious cash.
5. Speaking Zero Waste Indonesian Bahasa
Let’s finish with a Zero Waste Bahasa Indonesia crash course! Use these phrases to help you along your on your Zero Waste trip through Bali:
- No plastic straw, thank you = Tidak usah pakai straw, terimah kasi
- No plastic bag, thank you = Tidak usah pakai plastik, terimah kasi
- No plastic fork, thank you = Tidak usah pakai garpu plastik, terimah kasi
- No plastic spoon, thank you = Tidak usah pakai sendok plastik, terimah kasi
- No plastic knife, thank you = Tidak usah pakai pisau plastik (pronounced pisaou) , terimah kasi
You’re now all set and ready: have a blast exploring Bali as a Zero Waste traveler. BON VOYAGE! 🙂
P.S: I’m NOT affiliated with any of the above brands: I’m just sharing my findings!
P.P.S Bali’s not the only place you can be a zero-waste traveller; have you checked out how to be zero waste in Phnom Penh yet?