American expatriate Matt Simpson started Green Banana Paper Co. in Kosrae, Micronesia to repurpose the island-nation’s discarded banana fibers into vegan wallets. Simpson’s mission is to offer cruelty-free goods from waste products while creating new employment opportunities for local residents. The entrepreneur learned how to create these water-resistant wallets—which are made by boiling banana fibers to extract cellulose that is then ground into pulp before being shaped and screen-printed with designs by local artisans—with the help of Google and YouTube. Simpson plans to share his business model with surrounding island nations in hopes of stimulating their local economies. Companies around the world have recently taken to using a variety of fruit and vegetable fibers to create vegan alternatives—such as pineapple-based Piñatex and mushroom-based MuSkin—to leather and suede.
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