The Cook Islands rubbish dump up in the mountains above Arorangi is overflowing with waste, most of which cannot be recycled.
But before some of this refuse can reach its final destination, environmentalist Sabine Janneck uses some of it to turn everyday plastic waste into uniquely woven fashion objects.
Janneck moved to Rarotonga from Germany thirteen years ago with her partner Sascha Schmitt and opened the Dive Centre on Aro’a Beach.
She uses discarded waste plastic like foil wrapper from candies, coffee sachets, cheese wrappers, noodle packets and anchor powder milk bags to create colourful handbags, wallets, purses, clutch bags, boxes, cushions and laptop covers. The weaving technique has taken years to perfect.
In delivering carefully produced, eye-catching, functional objects, Janneck says a single creation can take from 10 to 60 hours to make.
Janneck cleans the plastic and sorts it into different colours before using a special template to create squares which are woven into different patterns. The creations are then joined together with stitching and the zips are attached.
Her philosophy is simple: “I can’t change the world, but I can make it a tiny bit better.”
The attention to detail and careful preparation of her source material shows Janneck’s environmental concerns. She aims to raise awareness of plastic pollution in Rarotonga.
Thirty-two works make up Te Ora Kopapa Natura O Te Aorangi, Sabine’s first solo exhibition.
Highlights include the Cadbury Clutch, which took four years of collecting waste, the Robert Harris Handbag combo and the Nescafé Coffee Handbag.
The exhibition is opening at 6pm on Tuesday, November 26, at Beachcomber Pearl Market Print Room.