A Guide to Responsible Tourism in Bali. Rice fields in Bali, Indonesia.

A Guide to Responsible Tourism in Bali

There is no doubt, Bali is the place to be right now. However, there are many issues regarding recycling management, especially plastic. The other observation to consider is the over-development of big hotels and villas which has gone completely out of hand. That being said, you can still make your Bali adventure not just unforgettable but also super kind to the Island of Gods and its people. In this blog post, I will give you a few tips on how to exactly support responsible tourism in Bali from an insider. 

Bring Your Water Bottle

A Guide to Responsible Tourism in Bali. Rice fields in Bali, Indonesia and gray sky.

First things first, keeping hydrated in Bali’s tropical weather is a must, but plastic water bottles? Not so much. Here’s an easy fix—bring your own water bottle. It’s such a simple switch but think of the difference it makes in reducing plastic waste. In addition to this, these days you’re more likely to be handed a funky paper or metal straw with your coconut drink, but don’t take it if they offer a plastic straw. 

Here are a few examples of great reusable water bottles you can get from Amazon right now: 

I love these options because they are not just eco-friendly, they also keep your water cool for when you head to the beach. 

Say “No” to the Takeaway Temptation

I get it, Bali’s food scene is incredible, but here’s a pro tip: try to dine in rather than grab a takeaway. This way, you reduce the use of plastic containers big time. I have to say that deliveries have improved a lot, with quite a few cafes in Bali swapping single-use plastic with cardboard. However, deliveries happen via scooter so that’s increasing the overall pollution and during the rainy season it rains A LOT, so the driver would make sure to cover your food in plastic bags. 

Recycling Made Easy

Caught in a spot where your hotel seems to be on a break from recycling? No worries! Bali is ahead of the game with recycling stations like the one near the Monkey Forest in Ubud. And if your room’s a bit lacking in the bin department, just sort your recyclables into different bags and have a chat with the staff. I went to an eco-friendly talk in Ubud last year and we have been advised to speak to the staff and even leave a strong review regarding recycling so they will definitely learn how to figure it out for the next guests. 

Another option would be to reach out to local organisations via Instagram and ask for advice (keep reading to find the list). I’ve done it before in Lombok actually and it worked out really well. 

Extra tip💡

Choose homestays (check these ones in Canggu) over hotels so they will change your towels and sheets less often. 

Join Fun Clean-Up Events!

A Guide to Responsible Tourism in Bali. RIce field cleaning by digital nomads.

Now, for the fun part! Many co-working spaces in Bali are all about giving back with beach and rice field clean-ups. It’s a cool way to do some good while expanding your circle with like-minded eco-warriors. Not working from a co-working space? No worries, just check out websites like Nomeo for community clean-up events you can jump into. Check out the local organisations later on this blog post, they all have an events section where they advertise the next clean-ups!

Get Your Hands On Eco-Friendly Finds

Eco-savvy shopping is kind of a big deal here. From biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes to reusable fabric shopping bags and beyond, Bali’s got you covered. These eco-friendly gems not only reduce your carbon footprint but also make for authentic, earth-friendly souvenirs. You can find most of these shops in Uluwatu but really anywhere. I would also suggest not bringing anything that is single-use so that you don’t leave anything on the island. I’m also talking about period pads. There are a lot of alternatives nowadays!

Find Your Accommodation in Walkable Areas

Choosing accommodation within walking distance of the main attractions not only gives you those extra steps (hello, health goals!) but also cuts down on pollution. Planning a trip to the Gili Islands? Even better, these beauties are a car and motorbike-free zone, making them a perfect example of sustainable island living. 

Don’t Buy Land if Possible

A Guide to Responsible Tourism in Bali. Picture of the yoga barn in Bali. You can read the "love" sign on this image with flowers.

Bali is going under incredible developments and the island simply can’t take it anymore. More concrete means less land for Balinese farmers, less resources and even less room for wild animals. One example is the snakes. I agree it’s not really everyone’s favourite animal. However, they need to exist to make sure there are less mice. Having more concrete means fewer snakes too which needs to exist in order to keep nature doing its course. There are some developments created in Uluwatu that reduced water resources for its Balinese inhabitants, which is really sad. Bali’s degradation is not our fault but we can do our bit if we act responsively 🙂

Follow and Support Local Organisations

A Guide to Responsible Tourism in Bali. Plastic waste talks in Bali, Indonesia.

Supporting locals is the way to go, and Bali is home to some incredible initiatives championing sustainable tourism. Make sure you follow them on Instagram to check out their events or donate if you can. Here is the list:

  • Bye Bye Plastic Bags: Founded by two inspirational sisters, Melati and Isabel Wijsen, when they were just 12 and 10 years old, Bye Bye Plastic Bags has grown into a global youth-led movement. Their mission is simple yet powerful: to rid the world of plastic bags and reduce plastic pollution. Through educational programs in schools, beach clean-ups, and advocacy work, they inspire and empower young people to make a positive environmental impact. I got to know the founders through their super powerful Ted Talk back in 2016 and I’ve been following them since!
  • Sungai Watch: Another must-know name in Bali’s green scene is Sungai Watch. Dedicated to protecting Bali’s rivers from plastic pollution, this dynamic group is making waves, literally! By installing barriers and regularly cleaning up the rivers, Sungai Watch ensures that waterways remain pristine and plastic-free. They believe that healthy rivers are the foundation of a sustainable environment, and their hard work has already removed tonnes of plastic waste.
  • Green Camp Bali: If you’re looking for an eco-experience that’s as educational as it is fun, Green Camp Bali is the place to be. This camp offers a unique blend of sustainability education and outdoor adventure. The programs include organic farming, river tubing, and traditional Balinese crafts. The camp emphasises living in harmony with nature and equips visitors with practical eco-skills they can take back home. It’s the perfect spot to unplug, connect with the environment, and leave with a renewed sense of purpose.

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Conclusion

I hope you found this blog post useful! Visiting Bali is a dream come true for many, and by travelling responsibly, we can help ensure this island paradise stays as vibrant and beautiful as it’s always been.

Ciao for now,

Silvia x

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