Have a paperless economy and digital services really proved helpful in saving papers? No, we can't say that as there is no shortage of using paper and paper-based materials around us. And usage of plastic is giving close competition to paper. Even we don't pay attention to recycle or reuse them. Only a tiny percentage of paper is being recycled in India as compared to its generation.
However, amidst this irreparable mess, one woman has come up with a way to tackle wastage of paper. Neerja Palisetty who hails from Jaipur has been carrying forward the legacy of her family of weaving for about four centuries. She inherited the talent of crafting. Palisetty uses old discarded newspapers and all kinds of paper waste from scrap dealers.
She sells a variety of recycled handcrafted articles which one can use in their daily lives under Sutrakaar Creations. The unique thing about her creation is that all of these products are made out of woven paper. Her effort opened up doors of livelihood opportunities for many women in Jaipur. These women spin the yarn for Sutrakaar with the charkhas.
Neerja's father was a textile designer from the very first batch of the National Institute of Design (NID), she said, "Coming from such a background, I’d always nursed this dream of setting up a handloom centre but it never quite materialised into reality, as I was dissuaded by friends and acquaintances regarding its scope."
She also has been researching upon innovative ways of recycling paper. She explained, "The stimulus to actually consider paper weaving had emerged from various Japanese techniques of paper repurposing that are unique and creative. Piecing that in the Indian context, the idea of repurposing waste paper as fabric to make utility products took form in my head."
“The dream of starting a handloom venture persisted in the back of my head and through the years as I’d shuttled between one industry to the other, this feeling kept getting stronger. By the time I hit my forties, I’d made up my mind, and with a lot of support and encouragement from my father and husband, I decided to give wings to my cherished dream, and that’s how Sutrakaar came to being two years ago,” Neerja added.
The process of weaving fabric out of discarded old paper involves, “Spun using shredded pieces of paper (anywhere between 2-4mm) on charkhas, the yarns are then twisted with the intention of making the subsequent fabric durable and hardwearing. This technique alone refutes all misconceptions people have when it comes to purchasing products made out of recycled paper that it would wear away soon and is not durable. Woven like any other fabric, the only exception in this technique is that paper is utilised as the weft while threads of cotton or silk act as the warp,” she narrated.
On deciding the name ‘Sutradhaar’, she said, “I always wanted a name that was essentially entwined with the art of weaving, and one could call it fate or what, the meaning of Sutrakaar turned out to be: one who weaves!”
Sutrakaar sells products like lampshades, photo frames, wall hangings and clutches to stationery materials like bookmarks, diaries, sketchbooks and pen stands. Their price range varies according to the product—from ₹300 for a pocket diary to ₹10,000 for a lampshade.
The Sutrakaar Creations is giving the country a way to utilize paper and beautifully handcrafted eco-textile products with it.