We’re Going Bananas for this Sustainable Paper

Robyn Simpson | April 29, 2024

Peo Ekberg shares our deep commitment to sustainability, channelling his passion into impactful work. Originally from Sweden, Ekberg has spent over 20 years advancing sustainability in Zambia, Japan, and his birth country. 

Alongside his wife Satoko, they operate One Planet Cafe, a pioneering fair trade-certified enterprise. Their work involves educating businesses on sustainability while producing eco-friendly paper from discarded banana waste.

Bring On The Bananas

We’re thrilled to introduce this repurposed paper across our lodges in Zambia and Malawi. But what sets it apart? When Ekberg discovered the immense paper usage at WeWork Japan, where One Planet Cafe is situated, he spearheaded a switch to environmentally friendly FSC-certified paper. Impressed by the initiative, WeWork implemented it across all their spaces.

Banana paper production forms the core of Ekberg’s mission to showcase sustainable practices. Inspired during a visit to Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, where locals faced challenges like deforestation and wildlife poaching, Ekberg turned to banana farms as a solution. 

From Zambia to the World

One Planet Cafe set up a “green factory” close to South Luangwa (home to our Shawa Luangwa Camp), where 25 locals were employed to extract fibres from banana stems.

Following the harvest of banana bunches, community members prune the trees to facilitate new growth, disposing of the stems. These discarded stems are then bought directly from the farmers. Banana stems are repurposed into paper, providing livelihoods and protecting the environment. 

The Zambian staff now receive fair wages and various benefits thanks to the banana paper project. These include insurance, bonuses, paid education, micro-credit loans, and paid time off. Ekberg notes that this initiative has had a positive ripple effect, benefiting over 1,000 people in the area. Remarkably, four children have been able to attend university.

“It is fantastic that Green Safaris is going to use our unique Banana Paper,” says Ekberg. “We are especially happy since we see this is a collaboration towards sustainability. We at One Planet Cafe and Green Safaris have a clear and impactful, shared value in working towards a more sustainable world.

“We hope the visitors at Green Safaris lodges will find this handmade and Fair Trade verified paper as beautiful and exciting as our Team does!”

For more Green Safaris Goodness:

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