A Pocket Guide to Ethical Shopping in Bali


While awareness of the social and environmental cost of fashion and food production and consumption is on the rise, it can often feel like there is a lack of guidance on what actions you can take and where you can find ethical and sustainable products. What stands out in many conversations I have on this topic is a sense of helplessness in the face of injustice, with many people feeling unsure of what to do, and whether their actions actually do make a meaningful impact. The United Nations named 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, which present exciting opportunities for aspiring conscious consumers. Travel combined with making a positive impact on peoples lives and the environment seems like a pretty good formula to counter feelings of helplessness and despondency.

“Every day, more than three million tourists cross international borders. Every year, almost 1.2 billion people travel abroad. Tourism has become a pillar of economies, a passport to prosperity, and a transformative force for improving millions of lives. The world can and must harness the power of tourism as we strive to carry out the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development“ ~ United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres

With this in mind, fellow aspiring conscious consumer Megan and I set off for 10 days in Bali, with the goal of exploring the ethical and sustainable side of Australia’s tropical island neighbour.

Immediately thoughts of the dreaded ‘Bali belly” sunk in, along with the realisation that our plastic waste would be far higher than either of us were okay with. Thank fully, we couldn’t have been happier about the solution ~ the Fill2Pure Travel Safe Advanced Filter Bottle. If this magical sounding water bottle makes you apprehensive, you’re not alone. Our scepticism hung around until we drank water from Angels Billabong, Nusa Penida, after a tropical storm. Check out how the Fill2Pure water filters work here. 10 days, zero plastic water bottle waste and no “Bali belly” made for very happy travellers.


For the travelling conscious consumer here are seven of my favourite finds from 10 days in Bali.


1. Rumar Sanur Creative Hub

This coworking hub provides a collaborative space for social innovation and “serendipitous interactions”, bringing together local community, businesses, social entrepreneurs, traders, start-ups, artists and creatives. Rumar Sanur lived up to its description as a “home away from home” and provided the perfect place to land for a conscious traveller fascinated with researching all things ethical and sustainable consumption and production.

2.  Kopi Kulture

Rumar Sanur’s resident “coffee shop with a purpose”, combines social entrepreneurship with responsible resource management to bring you local, high quality and fair trade coffee. Riesky served up some of the best coffee I’ve had and enthusiastically talked about direct trade with Indonesian coffee farmers, community development and how Rumar Sanur functions as an enterprise.

3. to~ko Concept Store

At the entrance to Rumar Sanur, to~ko showcases carefully curated sustainable products and brands made by SMEs and young designers. To say it was hard to not spend all of my shopping money here on the first day would be an understatement. The range of products at to~ko included garments, shoes, bags, lingerie, pottery, art, music, jewellery, sculpture and stationary. Each piece demonstrated expert craftsmanship and unique design, with many of products being either one off or limited release.

It's valentine's day! Are you looking for something to wear tonight? . . Here's Tara from @posturagency , who will be waiting for her soulmate tonight at @terasgandum . . She got so blank of what should she wear when @karismaattitude offer for an emergency styling help. He picked jumpsuit from @cocraparis , earing from manika , and necklace from Sumba Collection. . With magic touch for makeup and hair do by @lanzbeauty , she's ready for her date tonight. . . . . Good job everyone!!! ??. Beautiful Tara is ready for her valentine's dinner. . . Any of you need a styling service for special occassion like tonight? Come and we'll figure something out which will suit your budget!!!!! . . Beautifully captured by @_f._ . At @terasgandum . Wardrobe collection by us. . . . #tokokonsep #conceptstore #Bali #Indonesia #Sanur #responsiblelifestyle #sustainableluxury #ecoconciouslifestyle #ecoiconic #creativecycles #community #culturalchic #reuse #remix #upcycled #fairtrade #meaningfulproducts #fashion #furniture #homedecor #artworks #crafts #hobbies #collectibleitems #slowlifestyle #ownnotbuy #shoplocal #brandlokal #brandberkualitas

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You can find stylish modern and bohemian garments designed by Sanur local Collin Paris and locally made in Bali at to~ko, or if you won’t be in Bali anytime soon you can buy online as COCRAPARIS offers global shipping.


5.  Threads of Life

The second you walk into Threads of Life in Ubud it’s hard to know where to look. The store looks more like a museum than a retail outlet bringing heirloom-quality textiles and baskets from rural Indonesia, to Bali’s centre of sustainable tourism. Threads of Life works directly with over 1,000 women across 11 islands, from Kalimantan to Timor, towards poverty alleviation. The products are made with local materials and natural dyes and support weavers in expressing their cultural identity while also helping to build their financial security. The store offers a diverse range of products for a range of budgets. I would recommend giving yourself a few hours to browse the store and read the stories of the weavers. If you have time you can take a class on the textiles of Indonesia and their place in culture or on the botany, dye processes and practice of Indonesia’s textile traditions.

6. Makara Wear

The Makara Wear store in Ubud was exciting before we’d even walked through the door. Beautiful sparkly black sand covers the floor, making it feel like you are walking on silk. A quick browse of their website told me that Makara isn’t a company that is in the business for profit alone. They self proclaim being here to set an example to other companies on how to pay a fair and deserved salary, to respect the environment, and to help those around us. Makara’s media shines through with messages of womens empowerment and goal achievement, a message desperately needed amongst popular media, which cuts women down at every corner. From messages encouraging positive body image to achieving the kind of life you want, Makara has wise words for you, and a team that designs inspired by this philosophy.

7. La Boheme Bali

Established in 2011 in Ubud, this beautiful lifestyle brand is inspired by organic forms and a timeless classical French style. The handwoven pieces at La Boheme are made wth natural dyes, subtle colours and unique designs. In the dyeing process La Boheme uses extracts from flowers, fruits and leaves of plants and trees, meaning that they are non-harmful to humans and are more environmentally sustainable. Unlike regular chemical dyes, throughout the dyeing process water is safely recycled for agricultural use.


Happy sustainable travelling!


1 Comment
  • Truly, ethical shopping is on the rise now and is slowly becoming a trend. It’s really heartwarming to see that people are slowly adapting to buy items that are handcrafted and practice fair labor. My favorite site that I buy products are from localbazaar.co, I get the chance to buy directly from the makers and to also help their communities.

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