Travelling in Bali - How to travel plastic free

by Anna Nettheim

The Ekologi Store team recently returned from a trip to Bali where we visited with extended family, met with some suppliers, and picked up a few products for The Ekologi Store. We were super excited to see what changes the new ban on single use plastic bags has brought about. The supermarkets are all on board, and local initiatives to reduce plastic usage and clean up existing plastic rubbish are growing with lots of locals living in tourist areas organising weekly cleanups that travellers can join in on. There are more and more recycling endeavours in operation and shopkeepers and market stall traders still offering plastic bags expressed their support when we pulled out our own cloth bags.

To reduce our environmental impact and help us avoid single use products while we were away, we put together our own zero waste travel kits before we left. These included:

  • Reusable Cotton Shopping and Produce Bags – Not only essential for shopping, but also great for the beach, for storing dirty clothes and shoes, for wrapping toiletries, and a host of other things. If you forget to take your bags, there is no shortage of non-plastic bag options in Bali.

  • Reusable drink bottles – Download the app Refill My Bottle for a map showing where you can refill your water bottles when you are out and about. This began life as refill Bali but has now extended its reach. There is lots of great information on the site about travelling plastic free too.

  • Reusable coffee cups – It’s much nicer drinking coffee in a local warung (café), but you can use your reusable coffee cup at the airport and for coffee and other beverages when you are on the go. We took our Huskeecups because they are smart, light and hard to break which makes them perfect for travel including for hand luggage.
  • Stainless steel lunch box – You can fill these at the airport and avoid all the plastic packaging that comes with on-flight meals, and then use for takeaway or to pack fruit or snacks in while travelling.
  • Reusable Wooden Travel Cutlery Set – You can take this on the plane, and it is light and easy to keep on you at all times.
  • Non plastic straws – Whether you prefer the glass, metal, or bamboo options, these are a must when travelling in Bali where they have now been banned. While lots of places have already made the switch to bamboo, glass, metal or paper straws, many others will still add a plastic straw to your drink if you don’t specify that you don’t want one at the time you place your order. Tanpa sedotan plastik, terima kasih!
  • Bamboo toothbrush and toothbrush holder.
  • Plastic free toothpaste, powder, or tabs. We took Truthpaste as it comes in a small glass pot with a metal lid.
  • Plastic free deodorant - We’re mad about Wanderlightly’s natural deodorants which come in travel sized tins and keep you smelling fresh all day even when you spend the day treking around in the tropics.
  • Any other plastic free toiletries you need: take a shampoo soap bar or fill travel size tins or jars with your favourite products from home rather than use plastic travel sized products or those provided by hotels
  • Plastic free and reef friendly sunscreen – We are hooked on Sun and Earth Natural Zinc which gives 30 SPF protection and stays on for hours in the water. 

  • Lavender oil – this is great to take the sting out of mozzie bites and minor cuts and scrapes and also helps keep mozzies away. It comes in small glass bottles.
  • Mozzie repellant – we go for the heavy stuff in the tropics, especially during wet season and haven’t yet found a good plastic free option so let us know if you have.
  • Activated charcoal tablets – we haven’t found these plastic free yet, but wouldn’t travel to Bali without them as they really help if you experience any nausea or unwelcome tummy rumbles coming on.
  • If you are in Bali for a while and need to stock up on supplies, Zero Waste Bali Bulk Food Store has recently opened up in Ubud and Kerobokan and is soon to open other stores. As well as food items, they have other plastic free products you may be looking for while travelling.

To help you travel sustainably and reduce your own impact The Ekologi Store has put together a Travel Eko-Kit full of zero waste essentials. 

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Anna Nettheim is an Anthropologist, Researcher, and Indonesian Teacher. She is also the co-founder of The Ekologi Store – zero waste essentials for sustainable living. 

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May 17, 2019 — Anna Nettheim