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Purun (Lepironia articulata) is a type of rush or grass of the Cyperaceae family that can be found in Indonesia’s peatlands, especially on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Purun has a hollow, straight stem and is leafless, making it an ideal material for weaving. There are several types of purun, including Eleocharis dulcis, Lepironia articulata, and purun bajang.

Purun grows wild in the BOS Foundation’s working area of the Mawas Conservation Program, an area of 309,000 hectares that includes vast peat-swamp forest. Purun is used by the local community in weaving and even as a natural fertiliser. Wild purun must be processed before it is made into bags, baskets, hats, mats, and clothing accessories. Using products made from purun helps reduce the consumption of plastic products and plastic waste. 

Purun: A Local Commodity Replacing Plastic (Photo credit: Andrew Suryono)

Purun: A Local Commodity Replacing Plastic (Photo credit: Aderama)

Purun: A Local Commodity Replacing Plastic (Photo credit: Aderama)

Purun: A Local Commodity Replacing Plastic (Photo credit: Aderama)

Purun: A Local Commodity Replacing Plastic (Photo credit: Lalita)

The BOS Foundation, through its community development program, has collaborated with local handicraft producers in Mantangai District since 2021, to use purun as a substitute for polybags (the plastic bags used to transport young seedling for planting). The purun bag innovation was initiated in 2020 by the head of the reforestation project, after successful seedbed trials using purun bags in the Borneo SOS Project supported by Save The Orangutan (STO). The purun bag trial increased seedling growth by up to 86%. Reforestation projects supported by BOS-UK/USA, BOS Schweiz, BOS Australia, Orangutan Outreach, Save The Orangutan (STO), and BOS Germany (Deutschland) have abandoned the use of plastic polybags and switched to using purun polybags to improve survival seedbed. Replacing plastic polybags with a purun product helps reduce plastic waste, which takes a long time to decompose. In contrast to plastic-based polybags, purun bags easily decompose and turn into natural fertiliser.

Surrounding communities are also making the switch from using plastic materials to adopting this more environmentally-friendly product. This is in line with other conservation efforts focused on the environment, the fauna and flora that inhabit it, and the surrounding communities. Purun is proving to be a commodity that can provide social, economic, and environmental benefits to local communities.

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