A world without paper is unimaginable. It's essential for communication but making it can harm nature's delicate balance. Over the years, eco@africa has looked at some new and ecological ways to produce and use paper.
5. Elephant dung as a raw material
Paper can be made out of many things. In western Uganda a group of women are making paper – and earning a living – out of elephant dung! The women, mostly widows whose husbands were shot while hunting elephants for their tusks, also hope to combat elephant poaching. It's a great idea to save animals and trees.
4. Grass clippings to the rescue
Making conventional paper usually means cutting down trees and using wood pulp. Recycled paper often contains toxic chemicals. A German company has found a greener alternative by making paper out of grass — which doesn't even need replanting! The company wants to get all raw materials within a 50 kilometer radius.
3. Tackling Africa's plastic mania
With the growing consciousness about plastic waste, paper bags are being rediscovered in a big way. In Kenya, the government has restricted the manufacture and import of plastic bags, yet the country still uses millions a month. A business called Challenge Gift Bags offers stylish paper alternatives to plastic — have a look.
2. How to make old paper shine
But it's not always just about making paper. Recycling paper already made is also important. When Rwanda banned plastic bags in 2008, the use of paper exploded. But these mountains of used papers bags shouldn't just litter the streets or fill dumpsters. A creative entrepreneur is now turning them into jewelry and creating jobs.
1. Helping young learners with waste paper
In Ethiopia, two social entrepreneurs are doing their bit to bring back the old tradition of producing handmade books. Using recycled waste paper and old plastic canisters for sturdy covers, they are making eco-friendly products. Every notebook sold lets them donate notebooks to poor school children.