At KHADI PAPERS INDIA, we make paper from cotton. This comes in the form of off-cuts from cotton T-shirts which arrive in massive jute sacks from Tirupati, Tamil Nadu. As well as making paper from recyced cotton we also make paper from recycled jute (yes, those same jute sacks) and from tropical crop residual fibres such as banana leaf and sugar cane. None of these papers is made from wood pulp and there is no negative impact on India’s forests.
Papermaking is totally dependent on water and our supply comes from our own bore well and from rainwater capture. We recognise the value of water and we ensure none of it is wasted. First the “virgin” water is used for white papers, then it is recycled for light, then dark colours and for crop fibre papers. No chlorine, bleaches or harmful chemicals are used in any of our papers and the final run-off is pH neutral and has been passed for irrigation use by the Karnataka state authority. We use this water on our organic farm where among other things we grow the best Alphonso mangoes I’ve ever tasted – reason enough to be in India in the hot season.
Our next project is to convert our entire electricity supply to solar using panels to be installed on the factory roof.
In Nepal and Bhutan the harvesting of lokta bark in the Himalayan forests provides much needed work for local people in the hill areas. The bark is stripped and the plants are cropped above ground level ensuring that they regrow from the radial root. They can be reharvested after 3 to 4 years. This is a sustainable and renewable forest resource. KHADI PAPERS has developed a new method of preparing lokta fibre using soda ash instead of caustic soda. Not only does this produce a stronger, more durable paper, the run-off can also be used as a fertiliser so the environmental impact is actually positive.
Milan Bhattarai’s company GET Paper in Nepal engages in environmental work in addition to social work through its associated NGO General Welfare Pratisthan (GPI). Its work has a proven track record of effectiveness and includes HIV/Aids awareness programmes; education for girls and boys from marginalised social groups (the children of migrant stone breakers for example); anti-trafficking initiatives and income generation schemes. More on the work of GPI here. Every year GET Paper organises a tree planting camp which last year saw the planting of 3,400 trees of mixed indigenous species. This is not just a stunt – the trees are managed throughout the year to ensure their survival.
For more than twenty years KHADI PAPERS has supported WaterAid projects in India and Nepal. WaterAid is an international NGO dedicated to the provision of safe domestic water, sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people. Water Aid uses low cost technologies to achieve practical results.