I am so inspired when I meet other woman in business and particularly other woman that are striving to make real environmental change in their business pursuits, businesses that help to educate others on how to make changes, who support local business and lead with integrity and by example. Recently I met the gorgeous Silvija Rumiha, Mum of two and Bali expat for 7 years. She has a degree in Health Science and has run other successful businesses in Bali centred around organic healthy foods for kids. With a passion for health and wellbeing she is now on a crusade to rid Bali of single use plastics by opening Bali’s first bulk food store, Zero Waste Bali.
I caught up with Silvia to check out how things are going and also to hear about the event she is holding in Bali with Bea Johnson on Nov 16 on how to strive towards a waste free home.
Danni: Firstly, congratulations on Zero Waste Bali! It takes a lot of guts to open any business and especially one in a foreign country... What prompted you to open Zero Waste Bali and how have you found the response to bulk buying in Bali?
Silvija: Thank you so much! Yes indeed it can be hard opening a business in a foreign country. You are totally right right there! Seeing the plastic solution on land and in the sea was frightening enough however 2 things prompted my journey. Firstly my daughter saying we must do something about the plastic problem. Second on a recent snorkelling trip this year I found it totally disturbing the amount of plastic floating in the ocean and also whilst snorkelling with Manta Ray's it freaked me out that I got out of the water as I didn't know what was actually touching me. I decided after that incident that something needed to be done in Bali and further made changes to our families lifestyle and business and worked towards opening the store.
Danni: Sometimes I look around and feel very overwhelmed with the plastic waste issue here in Bali and also back in Australia, do you ever feel it's too hard or does to issue with plastic waste drive you to do more and educate more?
Silvija: It definitely isn't easy and YES it sure does make me want to work harder and inspire and educate others about the problem and simple steps and changes that can be done to help make a difference.
Danni: Recently I was back in Australia and I found plastic free shopping a real challenge, luckily there is a bulk store next to our supermarket at home there where we can buy pasta etc, but a lot of things we had to do without like with cheese and yoghurt. Is it possible do you think to go completely plastic free as a household?
Silvija: Going plastic free is a journey and I hear so many people saying that they don't know where to start. Sustainability starts with us. Making little changes is a beginning. Starting slow and moving on to other things that can be done is a process. It doesn't happen overnight. I think by changing your mindset with small changes and working towards greater achievements is key.
I totally hate seeing fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic. It is so unnecessary. Buying what you need when you need it will assist in less food waste and fresher produce. Definitely consumer choices can make a difference. How, you might ask? Simply by refusing single use plastic is a great start. Showing companies that we can live without the vast plastic packaging that they throw in to our society will make them think again about producing more plastic.
We are at a stage where recycling isn't the answer to the problem at hand. Yes it helps but it won't solve the current situation. For that we need to rethink our lifestyles and reduce plastic consumption and stand up to the big companies brain washing us in purchasing more of their products. Start reusing what you have and mending until it can't be fixed anymore. Ask yourself do I really need this before purchasing. More than likely you won't and will put it back - great way to help reduce plastic and waste going to landfill and the ocean.
Danni: I am a strong advocate for doing your little bit and doing what you can, even if you make small changes it all helps... What are some simple suggestions that are easy for people with a family to make the switch to going plastic free at home?
Sylvia: Simple swaps like bringing your own bag, taking a reusable straw with you, making your own cleaning solution with natural ingredients, switching to eco friendly light bulbs, taking shorter showers, switching to bamboo tooth brushes, using paper cotton buds and reusable cotton pads instead of cotton balls, cooking at home, composting and having a small veggie patch. There quite a few there but you don't have do them all at once. Pick things you are comfortable with and move to another thing when you can. It all helps.
Danni: Thank you for what you are doing Silvija, What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to start an eco business, or any business?
Silvija: I totally love seeing others doing their bit too. It really warms my heart. Love what you do in trying to reduce the consumption of single use plastic bottles and cups too. Well done! Seeing what is needed in your local area is the first step. Talking to like minded people or business owners in your local area is important to see how you can work together to bring a change. Better to work with others and drive each other than on your own. Research the market prior to investing. Challenge yourself to every degree as nothing comes easy. Working for yourself you will find doing more hours than working for someone else but if its something you are passionate about you will work 100 times harder without it being an issue.
Danni: What is the greatest lesson you have learnt so far on this journey?
Silvija: Seeing how many people are willing to embrace the zero waste concept, help and want to be the change in fighting the waste problem we have is simply amazing. I have met some wonderful people on this journey who sincerely want to make a difference and help where they can. I have seen others be inspired by my own actions which has had a domino effect to their lives and at work. This is something that has totally made me melt knowing that it is reaching others to make a change. It's only the beginning of the journey for me and many others and already there has been a positive impact. Imagine what others are also doing around the world and their greater impact. I can only smile and hope that this could be the change we need for the future. Its about a team effort and more people are becoming aware and working together to make changes.
Danni: I was thinking about your store the other day and hoping you expand to many areas throughout Bali, is this something you may think about in the future?
Silvija: Most definitely. Working on an outlet to open before the year ends. Fingers crossed all goes well. The more plastic free and bulk food stores around the world is something we need more of.
Danni: Where do you source most of your products?
Silvija: I try to get as many locally sourced products as possible both organic and non organic. As much organic as possible however being in Bali there are limitations. We do get products from other parts of Indonesia and some imported ones as certain products are simply not grown in Bali or Indonesia.
Danni: How do you feel about the future of the planet and the future of Bali? Do you see positive changes taking place?
Silvija: I see that there are may people trying to make changes, working hard to educate, reduce the waste and are determined to make a difference. With the recent Our Ocean Conference in Bali I hope that the commitments set for Bali 2025 will transpire. Reducing the amount of plastic and waste not just in Bali but around the world is vital. 80 % of trash from land ends in our ocean and 1 garbage truck of trash gets dumped into our oceans every minute. Time for change is now and it is up to us to do it. I certainly want a future for my kids and their kids and so on.
Danni: You are hosting an event in Bali on Nov 16 with Bea Johnson on simple steps to start a waste free journey. Can you tell us a bit about Bea and a little about the event?
Silvija: It's Zero waste Bali's first event, and I am rather excited about it. Simple steps are key to going zero waste and Zero Waste Bali will be hosting a talk with Bea Johnson, Author, Speaker and Queen of the zero waste movement. Join in a 2 hour event where you will be inspired by Bea to make simple changes to your every day life and help reduce the trash you produce going to landfill.
Bea and her family produce one jar of waste per year since 2008. With her positive outlook and simple 5R methodology, Bea initiated a global movement, inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to adopt waste-free living, open unpackaged shops, conceive reusable products, and launch organizations.
She shatters misconceptions, proving that waste-free living can not only be “stylish”, but also lead to significant health benefits, and time and money savings. She is the leading spokesperson for the zero waste lifestyle and a French native who currently lives in Mill Valley, California.
Together we can make a difference and every small step helps!
Tickets are available online and in store at Zero Waste Bali: Jl Raya Anyar no.30 Kerobokan also at www.minimuncher.com. Limited tickets available. Tickets include the talk and your very own zero waste starter kit to take home and help you begin your zero waste journey.