Hand-made paper is broadly known as Eco friendly paper as no wood is required for its preparation. Using handmade paper and its products is not a fashion statement, but shows one's concern for the environment. Handmade paper can be made from different combinations of raw materials which from normal persons perspective is a waste. All type of vegetable matter (like leaves, tree mass, potatoes, flowers), used or unused ropes, canvas, linen, new and old rags, hosiery items and tailor cutting, jute waste, paper waste and agro waste, fibres like Bagasse, Banana, Mulberry, hemp and remi etc. or any material can be used as long as it has fibres and is also capable of making continuous sheets.

World’s ecological imbalance at a glance :

In every second, trees of 2.4 acre of land are being cut which is equivalent to two football fields or per minute 149 acre of land or 214000 acres of land per day are being cut which is larger than New York City. We can also say 78 million acre of land is being deforested per year which is bigger than Poland. Due to this deforestation, approx. 137 species of life forms are on the verge of extinction every day and the total of 50000 species per year are on the verge of extinction from the whole world which is very shocking.

Evolution of Handmade paper :

Hand Made paper being one of the most ancient and traditional industries and its roots originated way back in 3th century A.D. from China. Paper was introduced in Korea in the 4th century and to Japan in the 6th century. Then it reached slowly to Asia and Nepal. In 751A.D, when the Tang dynasty was at war with the Muslim rulers on the banks of the Tarus River, the Muslims captured Chinese caravan that had many papermakers as well. They were taken to Samarkand where they taught the Muslims how to make paper and eventually, Samarkand became an important centre for the production of paper. From here the paper makers moved to Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo. When the Moors of North Africa attacked Spain and Portugal and they took the paper making technique with them and papermaking finally found its way to Europe in the 12th century.

Indian have the credit to use the handmade paper made from cellulose fibres (leaves) even during 3rd century B.C. the leaves of palm tree were medium of writing in India. Making paper in India has been a traditional art which has been passed through generations by the craftsman who were known as “KAGAZIS”, this name has been derived from the Hindi word “KAGAZ” which means Paper, few people from this community still exist and are living in Sanganer which is very close to the capital city “Jaipur” of Rajasthan in India.

Benefits of Going green :

  • It does not need wood as base material, so no need to cut forest / trees so our ecological balance will not be disturbed.
  • It is 100% wood free, eco- friendly and can be recycled again
  • It reduces pollution.
  • It can be decorated with flower petals, silk fibres, hemp, wool, grass, jute etc. which gives mottling effect to the paper thus enhances its look and gives a feel of class
  • The process of drying uses conventional solar energy
  • Only those chemicals are used which are very essential like Alum, Starch, Raisin etc.
  • Natural colours are added which gives bright shades to paper.
  • It has excellent base for writing and printing as it has more Tensile strength, Tearing strength and double fold strength as compared to normal mill paper.
  • Papers made in this tradition are durable, flexible and extremely versatile
  • Its production requires low capital investments
  • Handmade paper industry helps create sustainable livelihoods in rural areas. This industry employs unskilled workers, who are trained in these plants. Thus, this enables the local population, especially women to get employment in these production units. This industry has become so diversified and specialized today, they are producing numerous types of handmade paper including watermark, filter paper and drawing sheets.
  • The difference in cost between conventional paper and handmade paper is marginal.
  • Conventionally the size of handmade paper is of the size 22inch x 30 inch but even bigger size of the sheets can be made like 23 inch x 35 inch which means this size is good enough to make copies, books, and even A4 size papers which we normally use in our day to day life.

Uses of Hand-made paper :

  • Used for gift-wrapping, writing, drawing and painting.
  • Used by architects and interior designers for wallpaper, screens, blinds and lampshades etc.
  • Used by craft-makers to produce books, binding stationery, greeting cards, wedding cards, visiting cards, boxes, picture frames, carry bags and so on.
  • By using techniques such as moulding and use of paper-mache one can make almost anything - vases, trays, jewellery, furniture and utilitarian products such as cartons and packaging etc.
  • The paper can be used in Inkjet and Laser Printers which can be used for office stationery as well.

To save our ecosystem, we should use more handmade paper and this is one step forward from our side to leave a healthy ecosystem for the coming generations otherwise in the long run, we will have to pay a great cost as deforestation is increasing at an alarming pace to fulfil the requirement for paper.

Posted in Eco Friendly By

Arvind Dungerwal