Towards A Plastic-Free World! Home-Based Workers In Maldives Are Crafting ‘Smart Bags’ For A Sustainable Future

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The ocean is the lifeline of the Maldives. It is the calming blues of the ocean that draws in tourists to the country. And it is the food from the oceans that sustains the lives and livelihoods of those who live in the archipelagic nation. However, just like any country in the modern world, Maldives too is witnessing its scenic waters fill up with plastic and contaminate the life within it.

The Future Is Plastic-Free!

However, women home-based workers in the country are working to change that. Under the leadership of the Maldives Authentic Crafts Cooperative Society (MACCS) – a member of the HomeNet South Asia network – over 100 women home-based workers have been engaged in the “Plastic Noon Gotheh '' initiative since 2018. “Plastic Noon Gotheh '' means a “way without plastic” and it's exactly what MACCS along with its home-based workers are trying to achieve for their breathtaking country.

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In partnership with UNDP, under the Global Environment Fund’s Small Grants programme, MACCS has worked to craft over 1000 bags – stitched or screen-printed by women home-based workers – across communities in the atolls of Maldives and also across the capital of Male. Alongside, they have also gotten pledges from country ministers, government bodies and authorities to reduce the use of plastic in public offices and their official residences.

Home-Based Work Is “Smart” Work

In April 2022, MACCS tied up with the Maldives government’s State Trading Organisation (STO) and also Dhiraagu – one the country’s leading telecom providers – to create a unique environment-friendly initiative. The organisation has launched a ‘Smart Bag’ that has been crafted by women home-based workers and other artisans in the country. In order to incentivise the use of reusable bags and reduce the use of single-use plastic, the bags come fitted with a chip that’s linked to an app. Every time customers use the smart bags, they are rewarded with shopping points.

The initiative has begun with a two-month pilot, and has involved over 500 bags being distributed. MACCS hopes that they will be able to expand soon, provide more income-generation opportunities to women home-based workers, and aim to reduce 1 million plastic bags in the coming years.

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