Every year thousands of plastic bottles end up in our oceans, littering our beaches and killing marine animals. This has become an enormous problem In Indonesia due to intense tourism and limited access to clean drinking water. Lack of access to education in small towns means locals do not always know what to do with all this pollution, and much of it ends up in the Pacific Ocean.
One Planet Bags was created by Murray Rhodes to tackle this pressing issue. After meeting Murray, Harcourts Bay of Islands business owners, Tom and Jenny Rutherford, immediately saw the alignment with the Harcourts values and a way to help save the beautiful beaches of the Far North.
With the great ocean’s currents pushing the rubbish globally, the coastlines of New Zealand receive thousands of tonnes of rubbish every year.
The bags are made in a small village in Java, Indonesia, from used plastic bottles collected from beaches, streets and waterways. The plastic is taken to a factory where a machine reconstitutes the bottles into strips before it is taken to villages where the local women hand weave it into bags.
Through this initiative, local residents are learning the importance of keeping our oceans and waterways clean. The employment created ranges from collecting the plastic bottles right through to packaging them to be exported to New Zealand, resulting in job opportunities that are otherwise non-existent.
The Indonesian people involved in making these bags are well paid, earning the same salary as a teacher in Indonesia. They are learning about the environment and the ocean and are leading by example for neighbouring villages. A wonderful offshoot is that people are returning home to work, enjoying family and embracing their heritage.
“The Far North region has a stunning coastline,” says Harcourts Bay of Islands business owner, Tom Rutherford. “We saw this as a way of helping the environment and promoting our world class local produce. We fill the bags with wines, chutneys, chocolate and other local Northland produce and gift them to our clients.”
Each order placed by Harcourts Bay of Islands takes hundreds of kilos of plastic out of our oceans. To date, over 10,000 plastic bottles have been re-purposed. “We are proud to be involved with this initiative”, continues Rutherford, “which is helping to clean up our oceans, improve education and provide employment.”
By purchasing One Plant bags, Harcourts Bay of Islands is helping to keep villagers employed and reducing the plastic in our oceans.