Ebony Dalimunthe meets Silvija Rumiha to talk about Zero Waste Bali … and how she’s helping to save the environment.
Silvija, you are the Founder of Zero Waste Bali, the first zero waste bulk store in Bali. Could you tell us a little about how and why it started?
I wanted to make a change after a family snorkelling trip. Whilst in the water there was so much plastic and it totally freaked me out. I actually had to get out and I couldn’t get back into the water. I decided then and there to make some changes in an existing business that I have called Mini Muncher. Previously Mini Muncher products were packaged in plastic and from that day I decided it was not going to happen anymore.
I started by making changes at home. Being a mum, I want there to be a future for my kids and I want them to be able to enjoy the environment. I don’t like going to the beach and for them to be playing in plastic; that isn’t normal. I think that’s basically how Zero Waste Bali was born, through making changes in my existing business and wanting to see what else I could do to make a change.
How does Zero Waste Bali differ from other food stores in Bali?
Well, we’re package free and plastic free. You can bring your own containers and just take what you need. We also don’t use the normal sampah bins outside our Kerobokan store; all our fruit and vegetable peelings get put into a box. That box of fruit peelings and vegetables goes to a local school and they use that as compost.
As for the glass jars, we ask customers to let us know and we go and collect them as a free service. We pick up the glass jars and we wash and sterilize them, and we reuse them.
Sounds amazing. What was the biggest challenge you found in opening Zero Waste Bali?
The biggest challenge is dealing with suppliers and the way that they package things. We still get some things in plastic, as some things are not possible to get without plastic packaging because it’s imported that way. So we try and have as many locally sourced products as possible.
Can you tell us a bit about Mini Muncher?
Mini Muncher came about because I have two children. Moving to Bali I realized that there wasn’t really any healthy baby food and kids meals. A lot of the things were shelf stable or they had a lot of MSG, salt and sugar in them. That’s not something that I want to be feeding my kids and I don’t think that is the right way to nourish your child. Feeding your children should be naturally organic, without any additives. That’s why I created Mini Muncher: to be able to provide a service for others but also to be able to feed my children.
You have been living in Bali for eight years now. What is the biggest change you have seen over the years?
The amount of establishments, restaurants, cafes and the amount of people.
Do you see this as a good or bad thing?
With the increase of restaurants, cafes and people, comes an increase in waste. And there is no waste management in Bali. That just contributes to the pollution and the problems that we are experiencing at the moment.
What do you hope Bali will look like in another eight years?
I hope that the plastic situation in Bali will be reduced. I hope that there’ll be a waste management system. I hope people will be more mindful with their choices and shop in a more resourceful way, like bringing their own containers, or refusing single use plastic. Although there have been some changes in government legislation, we really need to push that further, to look after the environment and protect our future.
If you had one wish and one wish only, what would it be?
I don’t know. That’s a pretty big one. I would probably wish that the plastic associations and the government in Bali would really join and unite in working together to tackle our plastic problem.
Climate change is real and is happening now. What advice would you give to our fellow eco-warriors looking to save the environment?
Keep getting your voices heard and keep trying. Together we can make a difference. Single-handedly, we can’t. We need to unite together and stand for what’s right for our future. The environment doesn’t need us, but we need the environment. Without the environment there simply is no future.
Visit Zero Waste Bali in Ubud, Canggu, Kerobokan and Uluwatu.