New Delhi: Ever spared a thought to what happens to the newspaper you read every morning or the books and notebooks you have used in school and college and all other kinds of waste paper? In India, an individual consumes ten kilograms of paper, every year. Of course, some of it is sold to the kabadiwala or scrap dealers, but what do scrap dealers do with these? A very little portion of paper waste is recycled and the rest goes to the already dying landfills. In our country, 25 per cent of the landfill waste comes from paper. As most of us consume and discard paper recklessly, 43-year-old Neerja Palisetty from Jaipur collects it, recycles waste paper and weaves it into things of décor and daily use.
Born into a family of weavers, Neerja Palisetty, has always been inclined towards weaving. She wove her first creation when she was still in school. Though Neerja has done her graduation in clothing and textiles and post-graduation in Higher Education, she attributes all her knowledge about textiles and design to her father, who himself graduated as a textile designer from the first batch of NID (National Institute of Design), Ahmedabad.
When I was in 8th or 9th standard, I wove a jute and cotton fabric for my school project, which I later converted into a zip pouch. No matter what I did in school, college, as a design professor or in any other job I took, I was always fascinated towards paper weaving, which is basically a Japnese technique. Initially, I took whatever job I got, but after 40 I was like, it’s high time, and I should work upon my dream which has always been in the back of my mind. I took the plan and started Sutrakaar Creations which will turn two this October, recounts Neerja while speaking to NDTV.
Talking about her passion of working with paper as her material of choice, Neerja says,
People take paper in a very different manner. People use it for fliers, brouchers, and for other purposes, which are once used and discarded, like newspaper. Also, paper is the third largest pollutants on Earth today. So, to change the attitude of people and manage paper waste, I decided to turn into pieces of décor and daily use.
Neerja procures paper for recycling from several sources including industries in Jaipur that produces handmade paper, old discarded newspapers from households and other kinds of paper waste from scrap dealers. Once collected, paper is shredded and spinned into yarn through charkha. And once it is spun, it is woven like any other fabric. While the paper is used as the weft, the warp is either cotton or silk. Using this fabric, Neerja and her team create products for interior decorations like lamp, rags, wall hangings and fashion accessories like clutches, handbags. Apart from this, she also produces bookmarks, diary, sketchbook, pen stand and other things. Depending on products the prices vary from Rs. 300 for pocket diary to Rs. 10,000 for a lamp. The team also provides customisation at an additional cost.
Whenever we pitch our products to people and tell them about its making process, they are keen to understand and know more about it, but as soon as we tell them the price, they are like, ‘it is made out of waste paper so why such high price’. What people don’t get is, it is completely handmade and handcrafted and we hardly use any kind of electricity or electric equipment and machineries, tells Neerja.
Despite being made out of paper, the products are water resistant, but not water proof. Say, if your diary gets wet, you can keep it under the sun and let it dry. The water will not change its shape, colour or design. The team is trying to make products water proof.
With this venture, Neerja is not only using waste paper, but is also providing livelihood to a handful of women. Neerja provides paper and charkha to these women, trains them and lets them spin yarn at home.
As of today, Sutrakaar Creations has used 200kgs of newspaper waste and 400-500kgs of handmade paper waste. The organisation sells products across India and abroad and takes orders over their social media platforms – Facebook and Instagram.
The waste warrior signs off with a message for sustainable living. She says,
We should all try to follow a sustainable way of living for the sake of future generations to come and our products are a small step towards that.
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.
Got A Similar Story? Share The Swachh Story With Us