In this era of glitter, shine, and Instagram, we’re used to associate the word ‘luxury’ with ‘wasteful’.
And not unjustifiably so. The obsession to ‘own’ objects that will give one ‘social status’ (at least in their head) has led the world to the creation of absurd items like crocodile skin shoes, vicuna suits, deer musk perfumes, and all kinds of leather items.
Research has demonstrated that purchasing the so-called luxury items satisfies some people’s desires to be associated with an elite group. For years, companies have known that consumers associate high prices with high quality. It’s the reason why many people believe (often falsely) that expensive wine tastes better or that “we get what we pay for.” Companies know that by slapping a high price tag and a “luxury” label on a filthy, disgusting process, people will think that they’re buying something of value. Just like people in some countries believe ritually slaughtering an animal will bring them abundance and good luck! Learn more and help us stop this by clicking here.
Here’s what often happens, so that consumers can purchase expensive, “luxury”, animal-derived products:
Workers in animal-abusing industries raise animals, slaughter them in bloody and often painful ways, hack them into pieces or peel off their skin – often while they’re still conscious – treat that skin with cancer-causing chemicals that harm people and the planet, and then transport the animal’s petrified carcass or body parts to a factory. There, what was once a living being is turned into an item that folks will use for a short time before vanity kicks in and prompts them to support the process all over again.
One Innovative Eco-Luxury Company Is Breaking All Of These Stereotypes, Though!
They are selling beautiful, luxurious purses that are not simply sustainable, but actually support a local eco-system, provide farmers with extra income, and offer jobs to a community that needs them.
In a nutshell, here’s how the production of luxury items is adding massive value to people’s lives rather than destroying other living beings and eco-systems:
The island has around 20,000 trees. Local farmers cut them down after every harvesting to boost further production. The cut down trees have huge amount of fiber which usually go to waste or are left to decompose. Matt sensed the potential of using the fibers for making products after sourcing the cut trees from local farmers. The products are a result of in depth research and trial and error methods. He built a small scale eco-factory on non agricultural land, employing local artisans. This process created 21 new jobs for locals and got 75 farmers involved for sourcing material. Matt makes sure that all employees have access to safe and professional working environment.
Here’s a visual:
These wallets are the ultimate feel-good buy, and I would personally stock up on them for presents!
As it often happens, there is a great person standing behind a great idea like this one! Here is what the founder has to say about his business:
Why did you decide to start Green Banana Paper?
I had been living and teaching on Kosrae for three years and had learned the local culture, language, and gotten a feel for what life in the islands was all about. I was surfing a lot and really happy, but realized I wanted to help more than my 100 students I was teaching each year. Helping others has always been very fulfilling for me, and I knew that being an entrepreneur would allow me to do more for the island—as long as benefits to the community was the main focus, rather than profits.
How did you know banana trees could be used to make these products?
A friend told me about a documentary she saw of people in Thailand using banana trees to make paper. So I jumped on Google, and the info was fascinating. It’s very sustainable and rapidly renewable—and on our island, banana trees belong to the people rather than a single plantation. It’s one of the most eco-friendly and widespread resources we have. Most of our exports are from limited resources like fish, but banana trees must be chopped down anyway, as they only fruit once per life cycle. The harvested tree is removed to make room for the new shoots coming up from the bottom. The trees grow rapidly, from 5-10m in height over just 12 months, giving us a lot of fiber to work with.
What made you decide to make vegan wallets with your paper?
I decided to make the paper wallets after discovering the water- and tear-resistant properties of our papers. I spoke with customers who wanted fashionable wallets that are non-leather and earth-friendly. We made the first wallet prototype in May of 2015 and it worked really well. After testing and redesigning for strength, functionality and elegance, we are really confident in and proud of our wallets.
Why should people support you and your company?
A leading sustainable fashion designer Joshua Katcher says,
“In order for fashion to be truly good, the handsomeness of the object must be matched by the handsomeness of how it was made. There is poetic grace and heightened pleasure in fashions of conscientious construction.”
I believe Green Banana Paper epitomizes social enterprise ideals and how research and development of new products for the Western market can promote solutions for global issues, including targeting positive economic development within countries like Micronesia. The production of our wallets has been highly creative and skilled, and offers opportunities for fulfilling and meaningful work. The benefits go beyond the fact that our open-air eco-factory has great working conditions, or that the workers are paid 50% higher than the average salary. Our products are benefiting over 100 families, farmers and friends.
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