News Item

French Polynesia promotes traditional bags event for December

19 Jun 2018

In November 2017 the French Polynesia Culture and Handicraft Minster, Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu announced a legal text to ban the use of plastic bags from March 2018 onwards. The announcement was made during the 'Ete' (basket) event presentation, promoting the idea of replacing plastic bags with traditional Polynesian bags made out of pandanus leaves.

Plastic bags plague the seas all over and are every sea turtles' nightmare, however the tide seems be turning according to the Minister,

"Single-use plastic bags are now starting to die out pretty much everywhere in the world," he says

"When we see all that plastic floating in the ocean it doesn't look nice, do we want to go on like this?".

Last year in May the government launched a study on single-use plastic bags production and distribution, to see if there are economic, social and environmental benefits from its ban. The study results are expected to be released this December, however the government is already taking action.

The 'Ete (basket) event will run from December 1 - 3. During those three days, baskets made out of pandanus leaves (called 'pae'ore' in Tahitian), fabric, canvas, copra and paper will be made available in several supermarkets and shopping malls. The aim of the event is to enhance the local handicraft and reduce dependency on plastic bags.

The Minister says that he will look into making arrangements to support pandanus planting so that there would be plenty more bags in the future. Pandanus leaves planters will receive bonuses if they wish to benefit from this arrangement.

'Ete o te mau 'ite - The basket of know-how

For the 'Ete event' the choice of words are important. 'Ete' means basket in Tahitian, a place where we can put things in. Not to be mistaken with the word 'ite' which means 'know-how'. The words 'ete' and 'ite' are tightly linked.

Source: Outremers 360