All-female tote bag factory aims to raise awareness on dangers of plastic on health, environment

19-01-2020, vy Rudaw

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A recently established tote bag factory has created jobs for 25 women in the Kurdistan Region’s Halabja  and aims to promote alternatives to plastic

The tote bag production is part of the “Green City Halabja” campaign, run by the NWE NGO and partially funded by the German Consulate and WADI organization

Altogether, the women sew 50 to 100 tote bags on a daily basis.

“We are a group of 25 women who decided to establish this little factory sewing tote bags with different designs,” Gashaw Saeed who is in charge of the factory, told Rudaw on Saturday.

According to Saeed, the idea to establish the factory stemmed from attempts to reduce the use of plastic bags, nylons and other materials which damage the environment.

“Halabja is a friend of the environment” is the main motto adorning their tote bags, which are distributed at seminars run across Halabja. 2000 free tote bags have been distributed so far.

In coordination with non-governmental organizations, factory staff run awareness campaigns across kindergartens, schools, government offices, refugee camps and remote areas across the province, reminding locals of how they can protect the environment.

” I hope through those people take part in the seminars, more people are acquainted with the usefulness of the tote bags,” said Sara Salam, head of the environmental department of NWE.

Hiwa Salahaddin, a government employee who has taken part in a seminar said that that he will now use tote bags instead of plastic ones.

The factory initiative is “a great step forward,” he added.

Plastic bags are widely used across the Kurdistan Region for daily needs, especially food items.

In May 2019, the Sulaimani province, the first across the Kurdistan Region, decided to ban the use of plastic bags across bakeries ordering them to switch to paper bags, citing health concerns.

Such measures have, however, not taken place in Erbil despite calls from local residents.

Reporting by Diyari Mohammed

Translation by Zhelwan Z.Wali