Almug – Upcycled Newspaper Bags
THE ALMUG PROJECT:
The process of up-cycling used newspapers to make 100% environment friendly paper bags that can be used instead of plastic bags. Used newspapers, homemade glue(using flour) and jute ropes go into making these strong paper bags which can hold a weight of at least 7-8 kilograms. Unemployed women from the slums make these bags and are paid in return for their labour.
Almug is a social enterprise of Earth5R that believes in the concept of “Production by the masses and not Mass production.” The enterprise primarily focuses on employing the women belonging to the lower strata of the society. We believe that empowering the women, in turn, empowers the society. Moreover, the ubiquitously accepted fact that plastic bags pose a great harm to the environment if buried or burnt, which is often the case, the enterprise tackles both the problems of unemployment and plastic pollution by introducing Almug Bags. Almug bags is the series of aesthetically pleasing recyclable bags that are essentially handcrafted.
HOW ALMUG STARTED?
The project was first started at Gandhinagar by two social entrepreneurs of Earth5R- Ketul Patel and Ishit Patel with support from Saurabh Gupta, founder of Earth5R. Later the project was launched at Pune by Sonam Sengar, Madhavi Ningaur, Manasi Deshpande, Shriyam Jalan and at Mumbai by Sunny Singh and a French volunteer Faiza Miller.
Almug bags is the series of aesthetically pleasing recyclable bags that are essentially handcrafted by the skilled yet underprivileged women living in slums of Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and several other cities across India. The women are trained for two days to make the bags of different sizes. On acquiring the skill, they are regularly supplied with the raw material such as newspapers, threads and handles out of which the bags are made. The sizes of the bags are being varied as per the requirements of the client. The newspapers,
The sizes of the bags are being varied as per the requirements of the client. The newspapers, although undermined for its strength, are very strong when layered together.
The women, who have now become a part of the Almug family, earn a pretty decent amount every month, sometimes more than the income of the men in the house which gives them power over a lot of decisions that improves the family’s living.
WHY IS ALMUG NECESSARY?
According to the report of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), it is seen that the packaging industry grows at 16-18% per year. The plastic consumption in India has increased from 61,000 tonnes in 1996 to 12 million metric tonnes. Majority of the plastic waste is generated in the form of plastic carry bags. Earth5R came up with a solution by replacing the plastic bags with paper bags.
Since the development of polymers to serve the basic needs of people, plastic has rooted itself to the deepest of our lifestyle to serve even the most basic need of carrying groceries. According to reports, an average usage of a plastic bag is only for twelve minutes whereas it takes a thousand years to decompose. Moreover plastic bags have been a great hazard to terrestrial as well marine inhabitants who accidentally ingest it.
In the past decade, industrialisation and automation in industries have drastically reduced the need of manpower which has left the lower strata of the society ignored and unemployed. Their skills go unused and hence the families become a burden to the society. Almug locates the potential individuals and focuses on channelizing the very basic skill of tailoring towards manufacturing customisable bags out of recycled newspapers that eliminates the plastic bags. These bags, are 100% eco friendly as they don’t incorporate any kind of synthetic glue, cello tape or metal rivets.
HOW ARE THE BAGS MADE?
Another important thing noticed was that majority of the women in the slums of India are unemployed , free in the late afternoon hours and seek employment and empowerment. We then realised that through ALMUG, we could solve two major issues in one go. Newspapers are the most basic form of paper that is being truly recycled and again turned into the paper. The paper, that otherwise seems weak, when put up in layers, show great strength. Once read, these newspapers directly go into “Pasti” (Kabaadi) and then into recycling plants. Almug increases the use value of these newspapers by converting them into sturdy disposable bags.
We collect the newspapers from houses who would otherwise sell it for a few bucks, supply them to our skilled business associates in the slums and then sell it to the Business owners.
Orders are then given to a bunch of women each to make a certain number of bags per week according to which they are paid. The bags are then collected and the women are paid in the form of cheques. This encourages these women to create bank accounts and move towards online banking.
LOCATIONS WHERE ALMUG IS RUNNING:
Almug has over the period of 6 months spread over 30 cities in the country engaging the local community and local business owners into becoming a part of the solution.