Participants learn how to sew the woven plastic into purses.
This week, members of the Fugalei SISDAC Women’s committee, the Tuaefu women’s committee, the Pan-Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA), and Women in Business Development Incorporated (WIBDI) had the opportunity to attend workshops on waste-craft – refashioning rubbish into beautiful and sought-after consumer items. In other Pacific island countries such as Fiji, the practice has proven to be a huge success – not just in terms of raising awareness of sound waste management practices but also in providing income to many communities from the sale of items created from the waste materials.
The two full-day workshops, one at Fugalei and the other at Tuaefu, were the first of their kind to held in Samoa. The activities have taken place as part of a wider project implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to raise awareness on the issue of marine debris and demonstrate effective waste management measures that can be implemented in pacific island countries.
SPREP’s Director of Environmental Monitoring and Governance, Mr Sefanaia Nawadra explains:
“Other components of the project have included the development of awareness and media resources on marine debris and effective waste management, improved waste management at Apia port and the SIDS conference venue and associated facilities, and, engagement of the Apia community in waste management measures.”
Facilitating the workshops on waste-craft skills development was Ms Safaira Tagivuni from Fiji. Ms Tagivuni has developed a technique for folding, weaving and sewing empty plastic packets and transforming them into beautiful bags and purses. Having produced these items for years, she now enjoys teaching her skills to others.
Looking at the exercise in a holistic sense, Ms Tagivuni uses the opportunity to raise awareness of waste management, over consumption, healthy lifestyles and – crucially – environmental management. Speaking to the workshop participants, Ms Tagivuni explained:
“Our mismanagement of rubbish is taking its toll on nature. We have to learn to share this space with nature so we need to work towards rekindling our environmental stewardship.”
At both events, participants took to the new techniques very quickly and were amazed at the number of plastic packets required to make a small purse. Ms Anama Solofa, a UNEP SIDS Consultant based at SPREP, was impressed with the enthusiasm of participants, and their interest in learning more about such activities:
“There is an increasing level of awareness about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling waste materials. Something that this project is seeking to do is to also raise awareness of upcycling – the art of transforming unwanted items into something of value.”
By the end of the day, some participants had finished their first small purse – and everyone involved agreed that they would never look the same way at an empty chip packet again!