In Tonga, people are dependent on the land and sea for food and it’s a way to make money for their families. Agriculture and fishing form the primary basis for Tongan livelihood. Handicrafts, pumpkins, fish, and vanilla are the main exports. Tongan’s are literally ‘living off of the land ; the people here are very self-reliant. Many Tongans still create traditional handicrafts providing income for their families. All of the supplies that they use to make the handicrafts are also grown on land.
Recently a new community group in Tonga was encouraging people to say no to plastic and use fabric bags and baskets woven from coconut fibers as an alternative.
The group has launched the ‘No Pelesitiki’ campaign and says it has received support from the Royal household, nobles, politicians and the New Zealand High Commission. The group’s founder, Eleni Leveni-Tevi, said the traditional woven ‘oa baskets were made from coconut shoots and planting was under way to increase the supply.
The plastic bag alternatives are already proving popular, Ms Leveni-Tevi said. “So we did the launch on Monday and we sold out of all our fabric bags and our o’oa bags,” she said. “Some are waiting to put in orders and yes, we have sighted some of our bags in Nuku’alofa already in use.”
Youth groups in Tonga are being encouraged to support the ‘No Pelesitiki’ campaign, Ms Leveni-Tevi said. The group is also encouraging policy makers to ban single use plastics.