Zero Waste Bali: Teaching Bali to shop consciously

For our latest post, we caught up with Silvija Rumiha, founder of Zero Waste Bali– Bali’s first zero waste bulk store (watch the video down below to know what that is).  Living in Bali since 2011, Silvija grew increasingly concerned with the plastic problem the island has faced, a large part of it being the result of over-tourism. With ZWB and an earlier venture Mini Muncher, she is aiming to be the change that everyone talks about. ZWB aims to show others that ‘plastic free shopping is possible’. And it’s actually the NEW, old way of shopping.

Read on to see how Silvija is making a difference (ZWB won the award as Bali’s most eco-conscious store in the Yak Awards 2018) in ensuring this way of shopping goes mainstream soon. And if you headed to Bali soon, she recommended some destinations you ought to to visit.

Journey to Sustainability

My zero waste journey started a few years ago. It is only now looking back that I understand what lead me to be doing what I am doing today. A few years back I opened a business called Mini Muncher where we make organic baby and kids meals. What started as being only purees quickly grew to toddler meals, healthy snacks and treats and a school lunch delivery service. Back then I didn’t want to contribute to the growing problem of waste ending in landfill, so I asked parents to provide a thermos or other containers. We would make meals fresh that morning, deliver in reusable containers, pick up empty containers after lunch, wash and redeliver the next day full. I suppose this was the beginning of me looking at ways on how I could make a difference and reduce the trash being produced.

Mini Muncher products previously were in plastic containers and then we transitioned to glass jars and banana leaf for our muesli and treat bars. We also went label free so we write on the glass jars as opposed to placing a sticker on them. These little changes lead me to make bigger ones in business and at home. Like making my own beeswax wraps, eliminating plastic where ever possible, placing my dried foods in glass jars and then opening Bali’s first Zero Waste Bulk Food Store.

“I was sick of the amount of plastic being used and really wanted to show and inspire others that there is a better way to shop and in turn take care of our planet.
Here’s a look at how it works

At Zero Waste Bali there are no plastic bags or items in plastic packaging. Customers need to bring there own containers or glass jars. In store we have glass jars that can be purchased or, produce bags and we have a basket or two where people donate jars they don’t want and we give them to our customers for free. Prior to shopping, containers are weighed, items selected, container weighed again and then the customer pays. You simply take what you need, when you need it and items don’t sit on your shelf not being used. You end up paying less and wasting less too.


Bali and the impact it has had from over-tourism

Another reason that lead me to open ZWB came from a family snorkeling trip around the island – seeing the amount of plastic floating on top of the ocean while heading to our destination and the amount that was in the water whilst I was snorkeling. It totally freaked me out as I didn’t know what was touching me. So I got out of the water. I don’t want to swim in oceans full of plastic. I want to swim in a clean ocean that is plastic free. I want the same for my children and their’s too. There has been a lot of awareness on the island regarding the waste situation and many cafes, hotels and restaurants are making changes on becoming more greener and eco friendly. It really is wonderful to see how many want to fight the situation we are in.

Response to ZWB from locals

The response has been amazing. Both the expat community, travelers and the local community are embracing the concept and loving it. I have had many customers who take the time to say thank you for opening the store as ‘this is much needed in Bali’. More and more locals are slowly changing their mindset. There are quite a few million people in Bali so the impact although small is growing. New concepts take time and education is key.

Some green establishments in Bali recommended to OPR users

We love getting away for the weekend and have been to many places in Bali. One of my favorites was waking up to Mt. Agung in all its glory up close and personal. Other fantastic trips have been to Pemuteran and Menjangan Island.  There are a few good eco friendly hotels and villas also in Bali. I see more making greener efforts and being sustainable too and that’s encouraging.

One that we have enjoyed staying at is via which are completely vegan and vegetarian with meals catered and provided on site and they use earth and ocean friendly products too. Joshua District is another great place – they offer restaurants and villas that are amazing and have a great view of rice fields too. Stunning!

Ways to ensure traveling green

Our family travel trips have changed with the amount of things we bring with us and how much we buy. Previously it was two suitcases on our outward journey for a family of four. Now, it’s our reusables that take up most of our room with our clothes.

On our recent trip to Japan we had only one suitcase and lots of room left inside. I will be posting a zero waste travel guide early next month so keep an eye out for that on the website. I always pack a reusable bottle or tumbler so that coffee or tea can go in there too as well as water, soap and shampoo bars and bamboo toothbrushes.

Follow and support ZWB on social media here
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