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Waste To World Record: Kochi’s Vijitha Retheesh Sets A Guinness World Record For Turning Paper Waste Into Dolls

Waste warrior Vijitha Retheesh ensures that every piece of waste paper that she comes across should not head to trash bins, but should be efficiently utilised

  • Vijitha Retheesh uses discarded papers to make dolls and paper flowers
  • She made a 50 ft necklace from boards to enter into Limca Book of Records
  • To earn a Guinness World Record, she created 1,350 dolls using waste paper

New Delhi: The next time you crumple and throw away that piece of paper, spare a thought and consider these facts stated by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) – recycling one tonne of waste paper saves approximately 17 trees, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4100-kilowatt hours of electricity, 31,780 litres of water and 4 cubic meters of landfill. These figures warn us to not exploit our resources to create virgin paper from wood, rather to adopt recycling of paper waste as is being done by Vijitha Retheesh, who uses waste paper to handcraft dolls. Based out of Kochi, the 32-year-old Vijitha Retheesh ensures that every piece of waste paper ranging from notebooks to wedding invitations and advertisement fliers that she comes across does not head to trash bins, but is efficiently utilised.

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Vijitha can retrace her interest in converting back in Class four, when she first started the work to recycle paper waste to create paper flowers.


Idol of Lord Ganesha made from paper waste

Since her childhood, Vijitha has been reusing waste paper to create dolls, paper flowers and home décor items like wall hangings, photo frames, idols of Lord Ganesha, and other creative items like decorative parrots, elephants and even, chess board made from paper


Parrot made of paper waste by 32-year-old Vijitha Retheesh

I made a paper flower for my school project when I was in Class four. My work was appreciated by everyone at school and then my parents supported me to pursue this further. That year I ended up making over 200 paper flowers, said Vijitha Retheesh while speaking to NDTV.

Chess board made out of discarded paper

“It was not just my parents who supported me but even my husband and in-laws encourages me to continue making artwork from paper waste. What appear as a waste to others, is an asset for me. I use discarded wedding cards, notes or fancy advertisement fliers to create craftwork, and this has helped me win accolades from people and accreditation from Limca Book of Records in 2016 and from Guinness Book of World Records in 2017,” she added.

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She secured a place in Limca Book of Records for making handcrafted jewellery set (50 feet necklace) using waste cardboard boxes. She now extensively uses quiling (an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs) method to make dolls. It is said that no two dolls that she makes resembles each other as each one is crafted out of waste materials available at hand.

I create dolls thinking that my craft will evoke a sense of efficient waste management among people, especially the younger ones, she further said.

Handmade 1,350 dolls from waste materials that earned Vijitha a place in Guinness Book of World Records

Through her efforts, she even went on to earn a space in the Guinness Book of World Records last year for making handmade 1,350 dolls from waste materials, that too in a span of just five months. All of the 1,350 dolls that she created were distinct in terms of design and look, making Vijitha Retheesh to enter in the Guinness Book of World Records.

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Vijitha Retheesh also earns a living from her craftwork. She exhibits it in flea markets across Kerala and also sells it – dolls for Rs. 250 per item and paper flowers starting at price of Rs. 50 per item. In addition to this, she also provides training classes for Rs. 2000 per month to school students and housewives who have interest in utilising waste paper to create craftwork items.

Talking about how the government is supporting her in providing a platform to showcase her craftwork, she said, “Handicrafts Development Corporation of India has also shown interest in my work, and they are looking forward to exhibit in the handicraft exhibition.”

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To promote upcycling, the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and beautiful, the recycling crusader Vijitha Retheesh is now also working on a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tutorial book that highlights the perks of recycling and how in simple steps even the dust collected in one’s house can be utilised to make not just craft items but also utilitarian household articles like wall hangings, paper flowers and disposable plates.

Vijitha Retheesh has managed to earn a name and fame for herself by utilising waste paper that we all just throw in bins. She believes her dolls will inspire the younger ones to opt for the idea of reduce, reuse and recycle of waste paper, which will ultimately help in reducing the paper waste reaching the landfills, where five million tonnes of paper waste decomposes every year, according to Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.

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