Mr. Matt Simpson, Founder of Green Banana Paper.
Q1. What steps have you taken to ensure that every aspect of your business is environmentally responsible?
Green Banana Paper is an environmentally conscious paper company that is making a social impact. Environmental responsibility vital for responsible economic development. Our business recycles agricultural waste and transforms it into export-quality finished paper products. From our backyard jungles to our customers around the world, our products promote Micronesia with a message of sustainability, social enterprise and love for natural fibers. Banana trees are the most abundant and rapidly renewable resource that our island has. With our processing technique we can participate in the world-wide economy, bringing new money into the economy. We use these earnings to invest in people, and in things such as solar energy and further R&D. We all must strive to reduce our environmental footprint.
Q2. How does the process work exactly and what happens to the tree remains after you’ve harvested the fibers?
The process begins with any of over 100 farmers that call us when they have trees for pick up. We buy the stalks form the farmers after weighing them at our factory. We then extract the fibers which go through a laborious papermaking process, drying with trade-winds and solar heat, cut and decorated by our design team and assembled by our finished product team. The tree remains go into an organic waste pile and so far we have not found it very useful besides filling the occasional hole. It doesn’t amount to much waste at all.
Q3. How long did it take to perfect the process of making the banana paper materials, and what drove you to make it a business in Micronesia?
The papermaking process at Green Banana Paper is rooted in the study of both Eastern and Western papermaking, inspired by papermakers from all over the world, and We are students of the art and have developed a style unique to the environmental and biological conditions of our beautiful tropical island. We started because we love the island and wanted to help strengthen the economy by using a sustainable resource to create jobs and export products. I am an avid surfer and diver and the people of Kosrae have allowed me to enjoy their island for over 10 years as part of their community. This is how I can try to give back more in gratitude for the life I could have only dreamed of growing up in the East Coast.
Q4. How have locals responded to your business venture and have there been any noticeable changes within the community?
Green Banana Paper is one of the top employers in the private sector. We have created over 35 full time jobs just by recycling banana trees that were already being chopped down after harvest anyways as part of our local farmer’s normal routine. The people who work for us are able to support their families and relatives in times of need by earning a livable wage with upward mobility and skills development for every employee. We teach over 20 careers to our staff, which they have had no prior experience with. We hope the impact we’ve had on our community will be able to expand to other islands in the coming years.
Q5. Can we expect to see these products in markets across the Pacific?
Through this last year’s marketing and outreach efforts, we have found that many markets throughout the Pacific are full of socially and globally-conscious consumers. In these markets, consumers appreciate products that are ethically manufactured and are sourced from renewable resources–two attributes that we try to demonstrate through the craftsmanship and nature of our products. We will continue to strive to expand our distribution network in efforts to create a larger social impact for our community by having to create more jobs and purchasing more agricultural waste from local farmers.
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