The Plastic-Free Bali

Why It’s Sustainable

Bali is part of the island nation of Indonesia, which is the world's second biggest polluter when it comes to marine plastic, trailing only China. Pictures and videos of the plastic problem started to appear, such as this British Diver filming himself floating in a sea of plastic. But Indonesia’s most famous Island is taking measures to change that.

The new governor of Bali announced a law banning single-use plastic in 2019, and businesses have six months to comply or they face having their business permits revoked. We felt this law come to life very quickly! Wherever we went, we received paper or textile shopping bags, bamboo straws or glass water bottles. During the whole trip we received one plastic bag –  and that was at a small local market.

How did it all start? With two inspirational, young changemakers who founded Bye Bye Plastic Bags. We are in awe of Melati and Isabel Wisjen, the two sisters who are changing the way Indonesia thinks! The sisters have given a TED talk, spoke at the U.N. in New York and again last year at the IMF World Bank Forum in Bali. They've also been named among the world's most influential teenagers by Forbes, Time magazine and CNN – and we couldn’t agree more!

 What to Experience

Surf the waves at Batu Belong Beach. Since the first trickle of foreign surfers arrived in Bali in the late 60s, the island’s surf culture has transformed and attracted a devoted local surf community. Bali’s international reputation for its warm waters and year-round swell makes it the perfect place to learn how to surf.

Shop the streets of Seminyak. With so many stores, little markets, coffee shops and artisanal ice cream places around, you will not run out of options. Ladies, listen up! The famous round rattan Bali bags can be found at every street market – definitely worth a little splurge.

Partake in a walking tour of Desa Tenganan. Home to a community of around 800 Bali Aga (the island’s original people), the village of Tenganan Dauh Tukad is hidden amongst the jungle green of Karangasem, East Bali, and a wonderful place to visit.  

What to Eat

There is nothing we wouldn’t recommend trying in Bali – all the food we ate was out of this world. From fresh fish caught in the morning and served in a steamed banana leaf, to a beef broth or chicken satay. The food here was by far some of the best we have ever tasted.

What makes Indonesian cuisine special? Sambal. No matter what you order, you will always find an array of sambal options on the menu. The amazing thing about sambals, is that once you understand the concept and basic ingredients the possibilities are endless in terms of combinations and textures (e.g., crispy and fried vs. raw and soft). For example, a “raw” sambal topping consists of chopped shallots, lemongrass, chili peppers, and ginger all doused in lime juice – yes, it is as amazing as it sounds.

Where to Eat

If you are craving some delicious Indonesian food, then look no further and eat at Kaum – an authentic Indonesian restaurant located within the Potato Head Beach Club. Try the tasting menu “A Trip around Indonesia” for one of the best meals ever – a six course menu that will awaken your taste buds and have you asking for more.

If you enjoy Indian fusion food, then walk to Sarong Bali, enjoy a green tea, ginger tonic and devour a mix of Indian tapas.

Enough of Asian cuisine? Check out the newly opened Italian restaurant MAURI. Chef Maurizio Bombini has created uses homemade items from his hydroponic garden on the rooftop. He selects only the highest quality of local products in collaboration with Balinese farmers, in order for the restaurant to offer a conscious cuisine that respects the ingredients’ seasonality and origins.

Where to Shop

We absolutely loved shopping in Bali – there are so many hidden gems! We recommend getting some of the traditional, locally made art crafts, such as rattan goods. Rattan is the name for roughly 600 species of climbing palms, their characteristics being flexible and wood-like. Across Bali you will find jewelry, hand bags, as well as furniture, solely made out of rattan – definitely worth the buying!   

Sabia Designs – a small boutique that we stumbled across while walking the streets of Seminyak. A beautiful shop of long, flowy dresses – lots of creative tie-dye and inspiring designs. Each dress is hand-made, resulting in unique pieces. We went for a long blue tie-dye dress, which is now an essential part of our closet.  

Where to Stay

Bali is an island full of luxury hotels, bungalows and small lodges. But If you are looking for something special then Katamama is just the right place for you. The owners, who also own the famous Potato Head Beach Club, worked with the Indonesian architect Andra Martin and interior designer Takenouchi Webb to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly boutique hotel.

The result: modern rooms that radiate tranquility with the use of terrazzo, traditional Balinese bricks, teak and handmade Javanese tiles. In addition, the hotel has its own small boutique called Canaan, which sells housewares, yoga clothes, bags, belts and locally handwoven textiles.