Home' Auckland City Harbour News : March 30th 2011 Contents 8 AUCKLAND CITY HARBOUR NEWS, MARCH 30, 2011
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KIWI FINDS USES FOR OLD PLASTIC BAGS IN CAMBODIA
Valuable work: Reloop provides valuable employment opportunities for Kampot's disabled and poor people.
Photo: BEN WATSON
Bagging rights: Plastic bags mar Kampot's waterways,
parks and roadsides.
A squeaky clean: Plastic bags are washed thoroughly
before being hung out to dry.
Attention to detail: Colourful bowls (right) and bags are
carefully made by hand.
The end: The finished Reloop product (far right) -- bowls
made from plastic bags ready for export.
harbournews.co.nz to see
Ben Watson's slideshow of
Reloop's work in Cambodia.
With its dirt floors and rough back-
yard it s hard to imagine this being the
birthplace of anything artistic or cre-
But in this humble shack in the
south Cambodian town of Kampot,
beautiful handicrafts are being care-
Brightly coloured bowls, bags, belts
and other products are made here and
shipped halfway round the world to
the United States.
The products are made by Reloop
Designs and are the brainchild of Ruth
An eco-tour group asked her to
travel to Kampot in
the south of Cambodia
and volunteer her
expertise to create
products from used
plastic bags in 2007.
Ruth invested a
huge amount of her
own time and money
trying to make a dif-
ference in the small
Kampot is a sleepy
riverside town and feels a world away
from the dusty hustle and bustle of the
country s capital Phnom Penh.
And while the area is home to beau-
tiful sunsets, picturesque rural
villages and friendly locals, plastic
bags drift everywhere -- at the football
park, in the river, in trees and on the
Ruth s goal in creating Reloop was
to build a company that not only
helped clean up Kampot but also
helped its inhabitants.
She set about teaching artisan skills
to poor and disabled members of the
Ruth s company employs locals to
collect bags from around the town.
The bags are rigorously cleaned,
dried and then cut into strips and
made into yarn ready to be used to
crochet bags, belts and bowls.
The process seems simple enough
but setting up the enterprise was far
In spite of frustrations and setbacks
Ruth says she has a winning formula.
I believe this project has great
potential not only in Kampot but other
parts of Cambodia and South East
The efforts and appreciation of
everyone I work with
in Cambodia are
rewarding in them-
selves, she says.
below the poverty line
with the average daily
wage being about
NZ$3 a day.
The artisans are
paid a retainer and
then an amount for
each piece they produce, earning them
a fair wage.
Leb Sim has been working for the
company as project manager for eight
He loves his job because he gets to
make a difference in the town he loves.
In Cambodia many people do not
care about the environment so I want
to be one of the model people to help
clean up the environment in Kampot
as well as in the whole of Cambodia.
Ben Watson travelled to Cambodia
with the help of the Asia New Zealand
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