On the Micronesian island of Kosrae, banana trees are plentiful. Good paying jobs are not. Enter Green Banana Paper.

After living and teaching on the island for several years, American ex-pat Matt Simpson recognized many of his students were leaving because they could not find work. So with the help of a friend and the internet, Simpson started a local company that utilizes recycled banana trees to create environmentally friendly “leather.”

Banana trees grow rapidly, but only bear fruit once and must be chopped down and disposed of to make room for new shoots. Green Banana Paper re-purposes these trees into a leather-like material that is then made into high-quality, fashionable wallets (check out the production process below).

But making a wallet out of tree “leather?” Isn’t paper usually absorbent? How do these wallets hold up?

According to Simpson, banana trees are actually a phenomenal material for wallets. Regarding durability, Simpson states, “I decided to make paper wallets after discovering the water- and tear-resistant properties of our papers…. banana trees are actually 90% full of water their whole life, so the fibers are naturally water-resistant. We’ve thrown our wallets in the ocean and poured water on them thousands of times to show that even if the water soaks in, the wallets will be fine once dried.”

Making leather is a wasteful, harmful process. Fake leather or synthetic man-made products are by no means an ideal ethical replacement. Hence the need for innovators creating quality alternatives.

Green Banana Paper is a green company in more ways than one. Founded in 2014, they have recycled 170,000 pounds of waste banana trees, utilize electric motors powered by the island’s solar-assisted power grid, and reuse waste plant materials as soil additive at their banana farm.

So if you’re in the market for a new wallet — and you’re a socially conscious, environmentally minded person — check out Green Banana Paper. You just might find their products appealing.

 

 

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