Look Out Cows and Watch Out Monkeys: Here Comes Banana Leather

Photo: Collective Evolution

The average American tosses out 82 pounds of textile waste each and every year. With this surprising fact in mind, Matt Simpson wanted to try his hand at a more sustainable approach to recycling.

Simpson’s idea is quite different. It includes banana trees, Micronesia, and a little bit of creativity.

For years now, the idea of vegan leather has been contested as bad for both animals and the environment. According to the United Nations, the animal agriculture industry alone creates 18% of our greenhouse gas emissions. To put this in perspective, this is more than the entire world’s transportation emissions combined.

Not only that, but the fabrication of leather causes plenty of pollutants everywhere we look. Vegan leather, isn’t that eco-conscious either, as it is usually made with a plastic coating that is derived from fossil fuels.

So, this is where banana fiber comes in.

Banana fiber is created by simply collecting waste that falls from banana trees all over Micronesia. Since there are over 200,000 banana trees across the small country, there is no shortage of raw material. Simpson’s startup Green Banana Paper goes around the island, collects all banana waste, and transforms it into durable vegan wallets. Each water-resistant wallet boasts a design inspired by Micronesia’s indigenous people.

Luckily, both regular leather and banana leather are easy to care for. It only needs to be conditioned about twice every year, and all spills that occur can simply be wiped up with a clean cloth. So not only are banana leather wallets made from low-maintenance materials, they require little to no care throughout their life!

Green Banana Paper isn’t just helping the environment, all their proceeds go to improve the lives and well-being of local farmers. They have been successful thanks only to supporters on the crowdfunding campaign Kickstarter. Right now, the company is looking for donations that will allow them to hire more farmerxs, improve the quality of their products, and give back to even more people in need.

Simpson’s goal is to one day have a large, globally recognized brand that helps the island through one large community-based project.

“The raw materials are purchased from over 75 local farmers in the community – providing a new way to earn extra income,” the company explained in a statement. “Making wallets from banana trees is labor intensive. The making of each wallet involves 12 or more people. By purchasing our wallets, our customers are helping provide creative and fulfilling work to members of our community,” Collective Evolution reports.

All those who donate to Kickstarter will receive their own free banana leather wallet. Click here to visit their Kickstarter page.

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