Bags from waste: in Colombia, plastic is woven with ancestral techniques by these wonderful indigenous artisans

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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Using ancestral techniques, the artisans of the Wayuu community in Colombia weave bags with plastic bags, to fight pollution, rebuild memory and promote the emancipation of women.

The landscapes of La Guajira, a department located in the Caribbean region of Colombia, look like works painted by Mother Nature. However, the beauty and magic of these lands contrast with the miles of garbage that accumulate around cities like Uribia. Among deserts, ancient cultures and breathtaking beaches, plastic dunes and organic waste are also born.

READ also: "Plastic pollution is a problem of social justice": for a change, it affects the most defenseless

Pollution isn't the only problem. Lack of services, water shortages and corruption make La Guajira the second poorest department in the South American country. But the resilient spirit of its inhabitants, the indigenous Wayuu people, allows them once again to face adversity.

Weaving the "garbage" with ancient traditions

© Kattoui / Instagram

There is no waste, but resources and the indigenous Wayuu know this well. For this reason, with their project Kattoui, (backpack in wayuunaiki) they transform the plastic bags they collect on the street into colorful and comfortable bags, with the aim of rebuilding the cultural memory, reducing pollution and promoting the emancipation of women of the community.

© Kattoui / Instagram

The plastic bags used by these eco-artisans are collected through recycling days by a group of young Wayuu who try to raise awareness of the excessive use of disposable plastic and contribute their grain of sand to the care of the environment. . Each of their products is an invitation to change and a praise to the sense of community.

© Kattoui / Instagram

By weaving their bags they are reviving ancient traditions. Their souls and their hands jealously guard ancestral recycling techniques that were in danger of being lost, such as outajushi, first used to work cotton and some bark and root fibers and which now combines plastic, the only "raw material ”That abounds in these lands.

It is a backpack made up of 70% plastic bags. For each backpack it is a question of giving a new useful life to almost 50 bags, which in previous years would have gone to landfills, in our dune garden, contaminating the environment ", told a local vehicle Olimpia Palmar, one of the artisans of the project.

Weaving opportunities

© Kattoui / Instagram

However, this project goes beyond the environmental impact. Each fabric also represents a source of economic sustenance for many families and an opportunity to strengthen the social fabric, giving girls and boys the opportunity to learn and become leaders, thus building a more equitable future.

We weave an opportunity for the girls of this community. With this project we are learning to be enterprising and innovate, but above all to be a leader ”says Guillermina Jusayu, one of the apprentices and community leader.

© Kattoui / Instagram

With the Kattoui project, these indigenous artisans, guardians of the past, preserve their roots and weave spaces for the emancipation of Wayuu women and all their people by generating environmental awareness.

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