Repurposing Plastics Initiative
Samoa Tourism Authority in close partnership with the (South) Pacific Tourism Organization (PTO) under the Pacific Tourism Waste Action Initiative recently hosted a week-long training on Repurposing Plastics.
The training held during 14th -18th November in Apia targeted women, men, youth, people with disabilities and the LGTBQI community, focussed mostly on utilising plastic PET bottles and tin cans to craft a range of items for home décor as well as fashion accessories.
The focus of the initiative is to promote, educate and encourage the protection of the environment through sustainable tourism approaches in alignment with ongoing efforts towards a resilient and sustainable tourism recovery.
To help sustain the quality delivery of the program, representatives from different agencies that already have strong crafting experience took part in the train-the-trainer component of the programme. It is intended that knowledge gained will be shared across the tourism industry and other sectors.
Facilitator Warrick Gerrard Marlow, an expert in crafting and designing said marine waste is a significant problem largely because of plastics and more needs to be done by the biggest manufacturers
“My work is to empower people to make use of trash and turn it into cash. A lot of people don’t have the luxury of time to pick up rubbish, so what we do is we put a high dollar value on the plastics to be recycled” said Marlow.
Christina Leala-Gale the Sustainable Tourism Manager at PTO shared that PTO is steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that all Pacific Island nations continue to value the need to clean-up and ensure that plastics and tin cans are disposed properly to prevent harm to our beautiful environment.
“This is one small way of helping Samoa in its quest to becoming a more sustainable destination. Sustainability can be a very hard concept to understand especially in the Pacific region, but if you look at, it was all about doing tourism that will bring more benefit for our people, who are not only working in the industry but also the community” said Leala-Gale.
If we want to continue marketing our lovely country as a visitor destination, it's important to develop the kind of tourism that will not only be beneficial economically but will also educate our communities and businesses to be more responsible with plastics, she added.
Samoa has been a leader in the region for sustainable tourism interventions and STA continues to work closely with regional partners such as the Sustainable Travel International to help small and large businesses play a more active role in ensuring sustainable tourism development.
Samoa, in October last year, signed the Pacific Leaders Statement of Commitment on Sustainable Tourism in the Pacific by 2030, pledging its full support to strategic regional initiatives to elevate sustainable tourism as a regional priority for environmental, socio-cultural, and economic development.
The workshop concluded with a public exhibition of crafts created by participants utilising the techniques they acquired during the training.
It is hoped that the participants will utilise their newfound knowledge to support collective efforts to minimise plastic pollution and open up chances for Pacific Islanders to consider starting their own businesses by turning trash into cash.