Weaving good-bye to plastic bags

As New Zealanders face the end of the plastic bag era, one woman is helping the cause with an ancient Maori tradition.

Lana Hart is the founder of Kai Baskets, an initiative to help shoppers reduce their plastic consumption – and it’s proving popular.

The company’s Facebook page has reached 250,000 people in 10 days.

Kai Baskets began its first pilot programme at the end last month at Raeward Fresh Tower Junction. Like trolleys, the baskets are free to use for customers.

The project came about through Ms Hart’s own frustration when food shopping for her family of five.

“I would end up walking home with a bunch of plastic bags that I didn’t want . . . I always just wanted them to provide something to cart the produce from the produce section to the checkout.” she said.

Ms Hart said it “made sense” to use a plant material which is prevalent in New Zealand and has already been traditionally woven into Maori kete – flax baskets.

A small team of about 30, many of whom are volunteers, worked on creating the baskets, which are made from the same design as wahakura baby baskets, which are made for newborns to help reduce cot death.

The pilot is being funded by the Sustainable Initiatives Fund Trust.

To keep them clean, the
flax baskets are sanitised at the time as the trolleys and other baskets.

One basket can take about 45min to weave.

However a lot of preparation work happens before this to prepare the flax for weaving.

This includes stripping and measuring the flax, boiling it to get rid of germs and then air-drying it.