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Handmade statement

Be eco-friendly. Go in for handmade paper.

BAG IT: Eco-friendly products can be used for various purposes. — Photo: A. Roy Chowdhury

IF YOU love nature, take the first step towards protecting the environment. "Use handmade paper," urges one of the slogans of the Khadi & Village Industries Commission, which recently organised a three-day fete to exhibit, sell and campaign for handmade paper at the ITC Kakatiya Sheraton Hotel and Towers. Made out of cotton, silk, jute, petals, husk, grass, bagasse (dried straw), wool and banana, handmade paper can get finishes like leatherite, block print, emboss, dew/ cut designs and textured/ metallic coat.

The concept is slowly catching up for two reasons - growing consciousness about the environment (trees are not cut to make paper in this case) and making a style statement about your taste, class and standard of living.

A fact accepted by Venkat, of Haveli multi-cuisine family dining bar and cocktail lounge (Lifestyle building, Begumpet, Tel: 23401111/ 23409999), "our restaurant has a handicraft theme where the ceiling and the walls are given a copper art and woodwork effect.

As an extension of that, and to blend well with the ambience we are trying to create, we preferred to get our business cards printed on handmade paper. It helps somebody somewhere, apart from making an impact," he says.

Not many in the country are aware of the concept, though. "They feel pinched to pay a meagre Rs. 3-4," say Yashoda and Nakul Borkar, the couple from Maharashtra whose factory at Bhivandi, Thane, manufactures handmade paper exported to South Asian countries like Korea, Thailand and Japan where "people do not mind paying Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 per sheet."

Leela Sudha from Bangalore says. "If I was in Delhi, all my products would have been sold out by now. Hyderabad is still not all that receptive."

But Ujwala Giri of Deckle Edge (Tel: 23404924) begs to differ. "When we started our store nine years ago, we had to spend time educating the customer about eco-friendly stuff. Since three years, customers are more aware and ask for specific things and quality stuff. From college-goers to corporates (for letter heads, business cards and specific stationery items) to artists (specialised paper for different media of painting), many have realised the worth of handmade paper - the smooth finish and the rich look it adds to the final product can never come from a mill-made, executive bond paper."

And, there are people like Angela who prefer to reserve handmade paper for special occasions. "I don't mind spending extra money to add value to my gift. I would rather buy a handmade greeting card to show my people how much I care," she says.

Is there a wedding coming up in the family? How about getting the invitation printed on handmade paper? You could also customise your card for occasions like an anniversary or your spouse's birthday. By making a beginning today, you could give a fresh lease of life to an artisan.


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