How To Be More Eco-Friendly In Bali

Ironically, an island known for its natural landscapes is plagued with environmental concerns. Luckily, travelers can be more eco-friendly in Bali with these tips!

Bali is a favorite destination among many for its pristine beaches, inviting culture, massive waterfalls, and picture-perfect scenery. Ironically, a country that is known for its natural landscapes is plagued by many environmental issues. That’s why it is essential to be mindful of how you can be more eco-friendly in Bali while you travel!

Eco-tourism is a way to travel throughout the world with consideration to the environment. Indonesia, and Bali in specific, need this type of consideration and focus from every travel. It doesn’t cost anything, except your time and attention to understanding your impact. What are you waiting for?

Woman scuba diving next to a coral reef at the Liberty Wreck in Bali

Table of Contents

Environmental Problems in Bali

Plastic Pollution

While Bali is filled with beautiful beaches, temples, and waterfalls, it is also filled with trash. You’ll see it everywhere! The trash accumulation is a result of the tourism industry, foreign countries shipping their waste to Indonesia, and the local people.

Unfortunately, a lot of the waste comes from the local people as well. There is not much education about waste disposal, and the system is broken about trash collection. You will see piles of half-burnt plastic, resulting from the local’s method of trash ‘removal’. This is extremely toxic to the environment and air quality!

Loss Of Agricultural Land

As Bali continues to get more developed for tourism, many local farmers are selling their land for development into hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers. This creates a food security issue in Bali as more food needs to be imported into the island. Also, this disrupts the local economy, because farmers sell their livelihoods, which forces them to find alternative work, meanwhile, foreign investors take over the land for their profit-focused businesses. 

While food insecurity alone creates issues for the environment, a greater problem is the loss of cultural consideration for the land. Foreign investors are not on the ground seeing the problems that are created. They don’t have the emotional and cultural reasons to prioritize the land, that the farmers had. This contributes to a shift in the culture, away from cultural practices, and towards consumerism. 

1. Travel Slowly

One of the best ways to be a more eco-friendly traveler is to travel slowly. Moving slowly will allow you to connect with your environment on a deeper level and reduce your carbon footprint created by travel. You may not get to see everything, but let’s face it, you never were going to anyways! The world is so big, which is why you should prioritize seeing a few things fully rather than racing around missing half of the beauty. 

Travel slowly, and pack lightly with this essential Bali packing list!

2. Support Local Businesses

In Bali, you will find 2 worlds that coincide in 1 area. The Balinese culture is led by Hindu beliefs, with an appreciation for life and community, and the Western digital nomad crowd. However, the tourist-dominated economy supports luxury villas, western cuisines, and the comforts of home.

Supporting the local economy is a great way to travel sustainably. Local people promote their cultural heritage, as well as have a closer connection with the immediate environment. By supporting local businesses, you empower people to obtain more resources to give back to their work and community.

Support local business owners and guides on a variety of eco-focused activities throughout Bali!

3. Choose Sustainable Accommodation

Accommodation is a necessary part of traveling, and there are a lot of options! By choosing your accommodation with sustainability in mind, you can help reduce the impact on the local environment. These options will not only support the natural world but will allow you to feel more connected to it during your stay.

Many hotels and resorts use harmful products during cleaning, single-use products for the bathrooms, and are built with carbon-intensive materials. Look on their website for anything about sustainability, or call and talk to management. Ask about where they obtain their energy from, if there are any water reduction efforts, what they provide for guests, and how they promote the local economy.

Check out this 2-week itinerary in Bali, so you know what to do and where to stay!

4. Eat Local Food

Food is a major part of the culture in a lot of regions, and something you should be mindful of when making decisions. Many places in Bali cater to the Western lifestyle, but you miss out on the unique Balinese experience! 

When eating out at restaurants, look for Warungs (Balinese for restaurant) which serve more traditional dishes, or even ask the employees if the restaurant is owned by Bali people. Warungs serve meals for around Rp 35k ($2), with fresh juices and coconuts so you can eat well and save money!

While there are grocery stores everywhere, ask your host or any local people where the public market in your area is. You will find local produce and food for a fraction of the price you will find in the grocery store. This is also a great way to get to know what things are grown locally and support the farmers on the island. 

5. Eco-Friendly Transportation

There are many options for transportation in Bali, some significantly better for the environment than others. While cars are available in Bali, they are so much worse in terms of their fossil fuel consumption, emissions, your wallet, and the flow of traffic! By choosing options like public transport or a motorbike rental, you will help support a more environmentally aware Bali.

Check out Everything You Need To Know About Transportation in Bali to prepare you to hit the road on your next adventure!

6. Reduce Single Use Plastic

Plastic pollution is a major problem in Bali. You will see it on the beaches, side of the road, in rice fields, and in the mountains… it’s everywhere! The best thing you can do as a traveler is to avoid your contribution to the problem. These are a few of other best tips to reduce your plastic use:

  • Bring a reusable water bottle with you everywhere! 
  • Refuse straws when you order a drink, and instead bring a reusable straw with you
  • Dine in rather than order food to go to avoid unnecessary containers
  • When getting your laundry done, bring a reusable bag and request that they don’t put your clothes in a plastic bag

While the Indonesian government did ban single-use plastic bags and straws, there has been no accountability, and many places still use them! Do your part to reduce the problem.

Monkey holding a plastic water bottle in Bali

7. Get Involved With Environmental Efforts

There is a big focus on environmental efforts in Bali. Many of these are even pushed by locals! Check bulletin boards in public areas, Facebook groups, and more for environmental efforts happening near you.

Since Bali’s pollution problem is so evident, there are a lot of beach cleanup & river cleanup groups you can join to pick up some of the trash! My favorite organization is Trash Hero, which has 57 chapters in Indonesia! Check the Trash Hero website for chapters near you! 

Make sure to set up your Indonesia phone plan before you go, so you can check out local apps, Facebook groups, and events for things happening near you!

Want to get involved? Read about my experience with Trash Hero in Bali, and how you can join!

8. Respect The Environment

While in Bali, there are so many options for activities and excursions to go on! You have the power to choose things that will either support the environment or contribute to its degradation. Find opportunities to get outside and experience nature in Bali and connect with and learn about the local environment.

Check out these top eco-friendly activities and attractions in Bali. 

9. Reduce your Energy & Water Consumption

While Bali gets a fraction of its electricity from renewables (hydro & geothermal), the majority comes from coal-burning power plants. By reducing your energy consumption, you directly reduce the coal that is required to be burned since the electrical grid is fueled by demand. Similarly, Bali has an energy-intensive water-treatment system. There are some easy ways to reduce your use!

  • Turn the lights off
  • Turn off your air conditioning when you don’t need it
  • Don’t rent an electrical motorbike (petroleum use > coal)
  • Support eco-focused businesses
  • Take shorter showers

Summary - How To Be More Eco-Friendly In Bali

Bali is famous for its serene landscapes and enriching culture. But isn’t it ironic that an island that is idolized for its natural landscape, is consistently damaged and degraded? Traveling can have a negative environmental impact, but it doesn’t have to! By following these guidelines, you can be a more eco-conscious traveler and help to reduce your impact while exploring the beautiful island of Bali. 

There are many ways to prioritize environmental welfare, what are some of the ways you are an eco-conscious traveler?

Posted by Taylor Mallaber

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