Back to earth, replacing plastic polybags with purun

Conservation Blog

For a long time, Dayak people have used natural materials to craft the tools they need everyday, including hats, sleeping equipment, baskets, and even bags.

Central Kalimantan is a landscape formed mostly of peat, and one of the particularly special plants found here is Purun (Lepironia articulata), a Grey Sedge with a woody stem. This wild plant grows abundant in the peatlands and is used by a group of women in the village of Kereng Bengkirai to weave into baskets.

This technique was utilized by the Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) in collaboration with the Center for International Cooperation in Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatland (CIMTROP) from University of Palangka Raya to replace plastic polybags with baskets made from the Purun plants.

“I, along with other women, made Purun baskets for use by BNF as a substitute for plastic polybags. We feel happy because it is enough to add to our income and to preserve the culture of weaving again, “said the Purun basket maker, Aminah.

All the groups of community nursery were produced organic polybags made of the drying Purun (Lepirona articulata)

Aminah (80), said that she took the Purun plants from peat swamps around the village using a klotok boat. The most difficult process is to pound the Purun until it becomes thin, therefore she is also often assisted by her son.

BNF together with CIMTROP have a plant nursery area around the CIMTROP Camp and Ruslan Area. “We have a special area for breeding several types of native plants for reforestation in Sebangau National Park, especially in the CIMTROP Kereng Bengkirai area. Previously we still used plastic polybags to plant seeds, but since 2015 we have replaced them with Purun baskets, “said Nursery Coordinator, Salahuddin.

The 37-year-old man who is familiarly called Udin explained that in 2015 he tried to replace polybags by ordering 3,000 Purun baskets from craftsmen, at a price of Rp 4000 / piece. This was done to help the economy and empower communities around Kereng Bengkirai.

“In addition, there are several advantages from using Purun baskets for nurseries such as the stress level of plants is lower so the growth success is greater than using plastic polybags. The mushrooms in the Purun baskets also help provide nutrients to plants,” he said.

Udin added, a Purun basket can hold more water than plastic, as they are like a sponge that stores water, while plastic is hot, and can make the roots of the seeds rotten quickly.

Another advantage is that rotten Purun can be used as a fertilizer for planted seeds. In addition, the planting area is often flooded during high tides, therefore plastic polybags are often broken down by the flow of water, but Purun baskets are more firmly gripped to the ground so it is safer for seedlings.


“Purun is organic and easily decomposes, so this reduces environmental pollution due to plastic waste. So we want to go back to nature by using purun baskets as a nursery material and we hope that more seeds will be able to grow in the planting land so that the forest will be green again,” said Udin, BNF’s Nursery Coordinator.

Writen by Yohanes Prahara (BNF’s Content Creator)