Trained in the Textile and Clothing Industry, Gaby has created an innovative material to design accessories with: Frucuero, a completely biodegradable leather made from fruit peels.
This material makes it possible to reuse everyday food waste. It was created by Gaby and her partner Rocío while they were training at the Pedro Domingo Murillo Industrial School, together with their teacher Felipa Yana.
"We asked ourselves: 'What do we do with so much waste? How can we help (environmental care) in a real way?' and that's how Frucuero was born," says Gaby.
Within less than a month, Gaby and her team collected fruit peels from homes, markets, and juice stands. They processed them until they found the right mix. The team had to determine how much washing, grinding and drying of the fruit peel was needed to get the desired outcome. Making mistakes is necessary to learn and so the path to finding the perfect type of drying and the right temperature and texture was filled with experimental trials. Each step was duly measured to create an environmentally friendly and useful textile that could be manafactured into different kinds of accessories.
According to Bolivia's National Institute of Statistics (INE), for 2020, 56% of waste in the country is organic matter, and each year the largest amount of all solid waste comes from households, followed by markets.
Thanks to her idea, Gaby received a degree for excellence. At the Pedro Domingo Murillo Industrial School, innovative projects representing the school at departmental fairs have the chance to earn a degree. Effort and creativity are rewarded and, even more importantly, teachers accompany the students in their creative process.
The project allowed Gaby and her team to create – depending on the fruit used –leather of different shades and aromas; you can feel the fresh hues of each flexible fruit, but firm enough for products such as wallets, purses, bags, and earrings.
Before starting her training as a senior technician, Gaby was a psychologist for children with disabilities. It was three years ago that she began to move towards a different career path:
"We are often afraid of what people will say, but the fear is just in our heads (...) The good thing about fabric is that if you make a mistake, you can unpick it and redo it."
The Professional Technical Training project in Bolivia is an initiative of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), implemented by a consortium of Swisscontact and the FAUTAPO Foundation and in the mentioned territory by CEMSE-CEE.