We spoke to Bali-based content creator Riz Romauli, who founded SUMBU a platform where she can raise awareness about the environment to encourage people to take action.
Tell us about your sustainability journey, what led you to be more conscious?
Moving to Bali has made me more conscious in every way, but especially about the environment. I gained a deeper connection with nature as I live surrounded by more greeneries and the ocean. I’ve become more aware of my consumption and how I want to do my part and contribute good to the world. Seeing the detrimental effect of plastic pollution firsthand has really opened my eyes. Having so many amazing plant-based restaurants or cafes here all encourages me to adopt a more plant-based diet. It’s hard not to care about the environment here because your relationship with nature is on a different level and makes you want to take care of it. The whole community does beach clean-ups, some do permaculture, some do upcycling, some turn waste into art exhibitions, this beautiful island just inspires me to be more conscious.
What have you changed in your day-to-day life as a result of becoming more sustainable?
I have stopped buying fast fashion clothes for about 2 years now. Not saying that all my clothes now are made from sustainable fabrics, but I completely stopped buying from big fast-fashion retailers, 60% of my clothes are thrifted, 20% are from sustainable brands, 20% are from local brands that have slower production. I only use shampoo bars and soap bars to reduce packaging. I bring my water bottle everywhere to avoid buying plastic bottled water. I rarely use plastic straws anymore except when I go to a new place assuming that they don’t use plastic straws anymore, and forget to remind them I don’t want it. I mostly buy food seasonally and locally. Buy carbon offsets. Read labels for toxic and harmful chemicals and opt for natural & organic products. Always bring my tote bag to avoid single-use plastic bags. I go plant-based 4 to 5 times a week. It’s just important for me to start small to stay committed to living more sustainably. With these baby steps, they encourage me to learn more about how I can reduce my carbon footprint and do my part in taking care of the world.
What made you start SUMBU?
I started learning more about environmental stuff when I lived in California, but it’s not until I moved back to Indonesia in 2017 where the plastic consumption shocked me, how the condition of the rivers baffled me because it was full of trash, how the ocean is so dirty, I just realized I needed to do something. I started SUMBU as a platform where I can raise awareness about the environment and encourage people to take action. I wanted to educate people, especially in my country about the effects of our consumerism habits, and many other things that affect our environment. It’s just upsetting because Indonesia is so rich in biodiversity yet the locals lack so much information about the environment. I also wanted to contribute more to conservation programs, and with the help of SUMBU customers, I get to donate a decent amount every month to amazing non-profit organizations.
What are your future plans for SUMBU?
I have so many future plans for SUMBU. I definitely want SUMBU to keep growing as a platform and reach more audiences worldwide. One of the things that I really am excited about is to expand SUMBU’s team, to have more young passionate eco-warriors get involved with this platform, so we can do bigger things. From there, we can start making workshops to share insights and educate people more about the environment. I did a mini docu-series recently and it was a fun process where I learned so much about new things, it definitely made me want to do more mini-documentaries in the future. Last but not least, more upcycling! For now, I am just upcycling old rice grain sacks into bags, but in the future, I absolutely would love to upcycle more things!
What will you be doing for Earth Day?
Living in Bali, it really feels like Earth Day is every day. I just feel very grounded here and so close to Mother Nature. I celebrate how beautiful this earth is every day and commit to doing my best to take care of it. To be honest, I haven’t really planned my Earth Day this year. Spreading the message and sharing educational infographics go without saying as SUMBU is a part of my job. A beach clean-up is always a classic for Earth Day though. I might also go to my favorite waterfall or spend the full day in nature so I can keep the electricity and lights off at home for the most part of the day.
How do you keep up with the latest trends without over-consuming?
Adopt a traveler’s mentality. When we travel, we take only what we need for the journey. I don’t buy things unless I really need them and thankfully, I’m not big on trends so there’s no feeling of being FOMO when I miss out on the latest trends. Becoming acutely aware of the consumer-driven society in which we live absolutely changed my perspective. We are faced with more than 100 advertisements every day calling us to buy more or keep up with the latest trends. Recognizing the consumerist mindset of our world will be the first step to not let you fall deep into over-consumerism.
What are some of your favourite responsible/sustainable brands to shop at?
I mostly thrift when I want to shop. In Bali, we have this huge second-hand clothing market just up north that has every kind of clothes you’re looking for. I also recently found a cute small thrift shop near my place which I always go to when I need new clothes in my wardrobe. However, some of the sustainable brands that I adore are @thepangaia @kivee__ @hara_thelabel @shea.thelabel @amourvert @sokohcollective
Could you recommend one simple lifestyle change for someone who is looking to become more sustainable?
Bring your water bottle everywhere you go! It’s so simple yet it’s so impactful. It’ll save you from buying plastic water bottles. Globally, people go through roughly 200 billion plastic water bottles annually. Bringing your water bottle everywhere is the simplest thing you can do to start your sustainability journey, not to mention you will save more money, so it’ll be more sustainable for your wallet too!