New Delhi: The lifespan of a newspaper is rarely more than a day. For those who haven’t yet switched completely to consuming news digitally, it continues to be a daily morning ritual, where newspaper reading occupies a significant place alongwith morning tea or breakfast. But then it is discarded and accumulates in some corner, only to end with the scrap dealer or kabbadiwala at the end of the month. But what Nashik’s Meena Patankar aims to do is break into this routine cycle and give these newspapers a life of their own, after being discarded. The 58-year old has a creative solution – paper dolls to prevent adding more burden on the existing pile of garbage.
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Talking to NDTV, retracing how it all began, Mrs Patankar says,
I’m a housewife, and my children live in a different city, so I have quite a lot of time in hand to try new things. In the summer of 2015, sitting idle at home, scrolling through social media, wishing to try something new without spending a hefty amount on raw materials, I came across a video on how to make a vase using paper waste and got hooked to it. As soon as I saw the video I was inspired to make a vase because it required only newspaper, something which comes to our house every day and some adhesive. I decided to learn more about it, and try making it. Honestly, the idea was, even if I don’t get successful, I can throw it because it is just paper.
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After watching a couple of videos online and some trials, Mrs Patankar was successful in mastering the art of using discarded newspaper into beautiful vases and then she used the same technique to start making dolls.
I didn’t completely copy the tutorial I happened to watch online. I made some additions here and there to make the piece more solid and accentuate its beauty, says Mrs Patankar.
What started as a means to productively use idle time soon turned into first a hobby and then a fight against and paper waste. From dolls, small jewellery boxes, lampshade to hat, tea coasters, purses, trays, today Mrs Patankar makes almost everything from newspapers and has also began selling her products locally.
Taking about reactions to her creations, the housewife turned artist says,
Over the years, my craft has got both bouquets and brickbats. While some appreciate my creativity and buy it, others reject it saying the products are pricey considering it is made from waste papers. This is the reason I neither market it nor keep huge stock. I prefer to make products on an order basis.
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The products created by Meena Patankar can be shipped across India and start from as low as Rs. 40 for small jewellery boxes, Rs 80 for flower baskets to newspaper dolls that go up to Rs. 800. The price of the products varies depending on the labour needed and intricacy in the design of the products. An individual willing to buy any of the upcycled product can reach out to Mrs Patankar through social media.
Despite being made of newspaper, the products are durable and can last for years. Talking about the same, Mrs Patankar says,
Newspaper combined with adhesive and variety of paints, make the final product solid and it is evident from one of the products I made – a purse that can take weight of upto 5 kgs. Also, there is no rocket science in maintaining these pieces of art, just ensure dust doesn’t accumulate on them and take away their charm. Also, they should not get wet.
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From using waste paper to now creating products to possibly replace plastic, Meena Patankar sees a lot of scope for her range of products.
Plastic is hazardous for us and our environment and it is time we switch to safer options like I have started making bin liners from newspapers. Since the ban on the sale and use of plastic in our state, the dependency on paper has increased manifolds. Today, I promote paper over plastic and give training on using paper waste, says Mrs Patankar.
Given the garbage crisis across the world, there needs to be re-think on how we tackle our waste of any kind be it paper or plastic by everyone. Recycling it and turning it into beautiful items of value, like Meena Patankar, does seem like a viable option only if adopted widely.
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NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.