Climate Change | NEWS

Turning Waste Into Treasure

The women of this small village community in Serua are innova­tors: they are setting the bar in their communities and champion­ing the course of curbing the issue of plastic litter in the province.
03 Jul 2022 16:30
Turning Waste Into Treasure
Members of the Galoa women’s group (from left) Wati Drauna, Diama Wainitata, Temalesi Naitura and Udite Taukei with some of the jewellery they created from plastic waste. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

These were the sentiments shared by Galoa Women’s Group leader, Udite Taukei.

The women of this small village community in Serua are innova­tors: they are setting the bar in their communities and champion­ing the course of curbing the issue of plastic litter in the province.

As a village located along the coast where many flock to for a time of fun and leisure, they have often been disheartened by the sight of rubbish, especially plastic items that are dumped by members of the public who use their beachfront.

These women depend on the ocean to sustain themselves and their families but the dumping of rub­bish by picnic goers could have a negative impact on their food source.

Earings made from plastic waste by the Galoa women’s group. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

Earings made from plastic waste by the Galoa women’s group. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

WHAT ARE THE WOMEN DOING?

In 2018, with the help of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), the 15 women embarked on a learning journey on how they could transform plastic waste to generate income.

This initiative explores innovative and inclusive approaches to reduce the waste footprint on the environ­ment and protection of the lands and oceans from waste pollution for the benefit of communities and generations to come.

Today, out of plastic bottles, plas­tic containers, and other plastic items they create pieces of jewel­lery, home decorations and other things that have helped them gen­erate income.

“We started by ensuring that there are rubbish bins placed on the beach fronts so that waste is disposed of in the right place,” Ms Taukei said.

“These were part of the women group project, we ensured that there were signboards and visuals too that reminded picnic-goers to put their rubbish in the right place.

“Out of what we had learnt in 2018 through the SPTO, we embarked on a change, and we have been re­cycling plastic waste to avoid just stockpiling them or having them destroy the areas our marine re­sources breed.”

Ms Taukei said from water bottles, and shampoo bottles to ice cream containers and plastic straws, they have made ornaments that have been sold to generate income.

“We are basically transforming waste to treasures, and we are sav­ing the ocean, the mangrove patch, the breeding place of our marine organisms and mainly the ocean that sustains us.”

Another group member, Diama Wainitata, said the initiative en­sured the cleanliness of their sur­roundings.

“We have been able to empower other women from different com­munities to help in the journey of keeping our ocean surroundings clean,” she said.

“Sometimes there are no plastics in the bins that we have placed by the beach, so the hotels give us their plastic bottles to recycle.

“We go and pick rubbish from the ocean, bus and even in places we go to or just visit, we see the value of this plastic waste wherever they are placed. We collect and see what we can do to transform recycling and reusing. We gather the waste and sit as a group to think of ideas that we could transform them to.”

She added that the income they earned from the sales was solely theirs, but they do contribute a certain percentage to the women’s group for other projects.

The items range from earrings, chains, bracelets, wind chimes and many others.

Participants of the UNDP Plastic Circulairty workshop check out the jewellery on display. Photo: UNDP

Participants of the UNDP Plastic Circulairty workshop check out the jewellery on display. Photo: UNDP

SPTO

The Pacific Tourism Waste Ac­tion Initiative (PTWAI) is a Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) led programme focused on addressing key waste management challenges in Pacific communities through tourism.

As part of the PTWAI, SPTO has launched its Plastic Repurpos­ing Workshop, which harnesses the creative talents of our Pacific communities and marries these to contemporary waste materials gen­erated from the tourism industry, such as PET plastic bottles.

The initiative capitalises on re­purposing all or parts of PET plas­tic bottles for the creation of jewel­lery (earrings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets) wind chimes and other decorative items that can be re-sold to hotels, visitors, locals, restau­rants, cafes and tourism businesses thereby encouraging a circular ap­proach.

Feedbacks: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj



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