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Matt Simpson is CEO of Green Banana Paper, a social-enterprise he founded to address the scarcity of job opportunities in Micronesia, that is forcing younger generations of islanders to trade their beautiful home and families for minimum wage jobs in the USA. Green Banana Paper sustainably and ethically manufactures handmade vegan wallets and paper products from recycled agricultural banana waste in Kosrae, Micronesia. The company exhibits at trade shows and festivals, including the Hawaii Ink & Art Expo, ASD Market Week in Las Vegas, and Pacific Trade & Invest in New Zealand. Matt lived on Wotje Atoll in the Marshall Islands as a volunteer high school teacher with the WorldTeach program in 2007. The following year he moved to Kosrae, Micronesia, and coordinated the WorldTeach program there. He taught at the single high school on the island for four more years. Through this cultural immersion he learned local languages, customs, and lifestyles. Green Banana Paper has been featured on Mashable, One Green Planet, Pacific Daily News, and other online platforms.
Music featuring excerpts of Makin’ Paper folk song by Peter Thomas. Listen to the full song and find out about other paper and book arts folk songs.
Gary A. Hanson did the sound editing for this episode. You can find him making audio magic with his podcast series, I’ll Have a Beer and Talk, a show about tech news, culture, weird animal stories and of course, beer.
Lovely interview Helen.. Matt is a charming young man. Kosrae is beautiful, I was there last fall. I wanted to stay forever and be part of the crew.
If you get a chance go. Thank you for all you are teaching and doing. I enjoy your emails.
Marilyn, I saw that you were there! Thanks for listening and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I need to get you on the podcast soon!
What a marvelous and inspiring story! Thank you so much for featuring Matt Simpson’s efforts to combine art, business, community-building, and economic and environmental sustainability practices. Bravo to you both!
Thanks so much for listening, Tanya, and thanks for your kind words. It is an inspiring story!
GREAT INTERVIEW with Matthew Simpson! Inspiring to say the least! Wonderful, wonderful chosen life in Micronesia!!!!
thanks for listening Sally! It’s a pretty cool story all around.
This was such a fine interview with Matt! Thank you, Helen. I love his mission and goals.
I was interested to hear him mention Sandy Bernat and her studio. I have also been there. Her studio is top notch. So is Sandy.
The Ogami which we(Paper Circle)make and sell is 100% abaca. We developed it for advanced origami artists, but of course, it has lots of uses.
I see Green Banana Paper sounds different from abaca and wonderful. How can we buy some?’
Thank you, Sara! I’m having a paper sale right now and am selling one of the Green Banana Paper wallet styles. Or you can purchase directly from Green Banana Paper online.
Thanks for sharing your story. I can relate. I too am a producer of Banana Paper. All the best with your business aspirations.