What Balinese can teach us about sustainability

I like to think that I am a conservative shopper and housekeeper. I don’t buy much and if I do it tends to be second-hand. On the food front, we cook from scratch and avoid snacky foods, as apart from being unhealthy, they come in non-recyclable packaging. This tendency to be frugal has been strengthened when I came across the zero waste movement and did a one month zero waste challenge in spring last year. But living here in Bali I have realised how much more resourceful the locals are. They have put my frugal ambitions to shame.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Bali’s plastic problem and how hard it is to educate the locals that plastic won’t go away. That it is not like traditional packaging made out of banana leaf, which will decompose if thrown on the ground. Now I would like to share with you the other side of Balinese. The frugal, resourceful and sustainable mindset they have. Not because of some high-minded ideology, but through necessity. Balinese don’t have much money to buy new things, so they have learnt to fix things, upcycle and use what is cheap/free/local.

The lesson to be learnt here is to take better care of what we have, learn how to fix things and make use of available materials.

Would you eve consider stitching broken plastic sandals?sustainable Bali stitched old sandals mumbalance


This pot is still perfectly good for boiling vegetables.


It would never cross my mind to mend a broken bowl with a piece of string. This one is used on a construction site for carrying sand and stones, so it does not need to be watertight. 


Such a simple idea to fix a lid with a missing handle.sustaiable bali fixed old lid mumbalance


There is no municipal recycling and private recycling companies are expensive. There are local recycling depots where locals collect rubbish, because they can make some money on recyclable materials like plastic, metal and glass.sustaiable Bali recycling facility mumbalance


A Heineken bottle is reused by a local drinks producer for their own product. We didn’t like it, but you might 🙂 It’s always interesting to try local flavours.

sustainable bali reused heineken bottle mumbalance


Beer bottles can be returned to the shop, but I have not found a way to recycle bottle tops. Someone has hit upon an attractive idea of upcycling them.

sustainale bali upcycled bottle caps mirror frame mumbalance


I love this idea of upcycling plastic bottles as hanging flowers baskets.

sustainable bali upcycled plastic bottles as hanging flower baskets mumbalance


These upcycled glass bottles are a very attractive lamp shade.

sustainable Bali upcycled glass bottles as lamp shades mumbalance


I hope you have found Balinese inventiveness inspiring. Which one is your favourite? I love to hear from you, so do leave me a comment or get in touch on Twitter.


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what balinese can teach us about sustainability mumbalance