When you meet Cook Islands Recycling Creation’s Sabine Janneck, her positive energy is infectious.
This “eco-warrior” has taken her passion for reducing Rarotonga’s plastic pollution to the next level with her made-to-order fashionable accessories created with everyday trash.
Janneck moved to Rarotonga from Germany nine years ago with her partner Sascha Schmitt and opened the Dive Centre on Aro’a Beach.
“I’m passionate about the community... this is home,” says Janneck, who is also an active member of Te Ipukarea Society.
In April last year, a friend from overseas visited and introduced Janneck to a type of weaving using discarded plastic packets. From then on, Janneck was hooked and began creating a range of beautiful handbags, small zip purses, laptop cases, phone covers, baskets and cushions.
She uses lolly wrappers, snack and yoghurt packets, chocolate wrappers, noodle packets, milk cartons and basically any type of plastic that would otherwise end up in the landfill.
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, as are the zips.
The process takes hours - an intricate handbag with wooden handles took Janneck about 50 hours. She does not have a background in craft but regards the project is an outlet to share the importance of keeping Rarotonga clean and green.
“I wanted to do something to teach our children. It is such a beautiful place we don’t want to destroy it.”
Locals and tourists love Janneck’s creations so much she is struggling to keep up with demand. In fact Dive Centre staff and her partner Sascha have even got in on the action.
The project relies on plastic rubbish, and truckloads of it.
Businesses across the island have got on board and have plastic baskets where anyone can drop off their wrappers. Janneck is also happy to collect rubbish from anywhere on the island.
Plastic baskets can be found at The Dive Centre, Lagoon Breeze Villas, Whale Research Centre, Magic Reef Bungalows, Tumuora Crossfit, Manuia Beach Resort and Cook Islands Tourism Information Centre in town.
For more information visit the Cook Islands Recycling Creations Facebook page or call Sabine Janneck on 55238.