Clean Paper Initiative by Sikkim School

05 Nov 2019

The Clean Paper Initiative by Government Senior Secondary School in Makha of East Sikkim converts old pages stocked in their school into note books, thereby adding value to paper and reusing the same rather than selling it to scrap vendors. The programme which earns them a small revenue is a part of the school Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

The trend of using only one side of A4 size papers is a great loss to paper resources owing to its partial use. Every school, institution and offices generate large amounts of such paper. On one hand they create problem in space management while on the other they are treated as waste products and sold as scrap without completely being used.

The programme which aims to spread awareness about complete use of paper started with the reuse of all old pages at the school. By doing so, it might be one of the few schools that uses old paper to make into notebooks to give to students as rough copies for free. Subsequently, following a request to other schools, as many as 19 schools from 3 districts of Sikkim consented to give their unused pages to the Makha School to convert into note books.

More recently, agencies headed by environmental conscious people like Sujal Textbook Manufacture (Makha), Oli Printing Press (Singtam), and premier educational institutions such as DIET, Gangtok, and local philanthropists such as J. N. Sapkota (Makha) and Shital Pradhan (Singtam) donated papers towards this initiative. Not surprisingly, 10-15% of that paper contained clean pages that could be bound to form new copies.

To convert the pages into note books, in the first phase, 82 students worked for just 15 minutes per day, contributing an impressive 1000 hours for generating a small revenue that was utilized to help drop-out student – Devi Sharan Chettri to get admission into NIOS. In the 2nd Phase, 53 students joined me, sparing 20 minutes of lunch time each day, contributing another 2000 hours for segregating paper and making 200 clean copies.

For every 100 copies sold, one student is sponsored for admission. While half of the amount is earned from the product, the remaining is my voluntarily contribution. Recently, we helped 2 female students – Sova Devi Sharma and Anugrah Chettri to get admission into BA Courses under IGNOU, Gangtok. A demand for 200 additional copies is still on its way.

With the success earned by our idea, and continuous paper generation every year, a ‘sustainable Small Scale Industry’ can be established that would work in the area of collecting, segregating, and reusing semi-used paper resources.

Volunteer Paper Workshop:
Our Volunteer Paper Workshop idea was presented with the ‘Paryavaran Rakshak Award’ organized by the environmental organization Green Dream Foundation and GRIHA Council, New Delhi. Under this, a huge volume of 2,50,000 pages have been segregated by us for reuse so far.

The programme has other impacts. Assuming that on an average one tree roughly contributes to 5000 pages and allowing a time span of 30 years for its growth, we could save around 50 trees and recover a life-span of 1500 years. Notably, 4281 acres of rainforests are destroyed every hour and it requires 3 tons of wood to produce 1 ton of paper. As the paper industry is the third largest air polluting industry, by reusing nearly 1 ton of paper we could save around 26,500 litres of water used for its manufacture, 572 kgs of Carbon-dioxide emissions, 1033 kgs of solid waste, around thousand units of electricity in addition to saving time, manpower and other resources.

In the national context, the 2011-12 MHRD report states that there are 1.3 million schools in our country. It is very likely that tons of one sided A4 size papers are generated at those schools during assignments and other activities. Roughly assuming that one school generates an average of 10,000 semi-used pages, there is a possibility of reusing 1300 crore pages. Further, if we take into account the thousands of offices and other agencies, such data would have unimaginable results.

This idea of reusing one sided A4 pages is both sustainable and promising. With our data we will soon be approaching Departments of our state to frame a State Policy for the reuse of all paper before it is discarded.

By Lomas Dhungel, Founder cum Developer (Hariyo Makha) and Graduate Teacher (Mathematics), Government. Senior Secondary School, Makha, East Sikkim

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