Attempting to reform the waste management system, Manya Harsha, a 10-year-old girl from Bengaluru, has created eco-friendly paper from vegetable peels. Her efforts to save the environment have even been appreciated by the United Nations-Water (UN-Water).
Harsha, a student of class 6 in Bengaluru, has come up with a unique way to make paper out of the peels of onion, garlic and tomatoes. She actively volunteers at various green initiatives and spends most of her time campaigning for nature conservation.
A Nature Lover
Growing up amidst the greenery of her grandmother's house, Harsha had always been fascinated with nature. As soon as she realised the concerns over dumping of waste in the city, she made her mind to stop the growing menace. Later, she created a blog to make people aware about the steps to preserve the environment, and wrote five books on the subject of nature.
She also recently hosted a clean-up drive at Markonahalli Dam and Varca Beach to tackle the problem of persistent garbage pollution, according to Deccan Chronicle.
"Recycled paper reduces energy and helps stop deforestation. With around 1.3 billion population, India generates an average of 1000 gms of kitchen waste per day, if everyone starts recycling vegetable peels into paper, each one can contribute to the lessening of Ecological crisis," one of her posts on Instagram reads.
"Paper and deforestation is a pervasive problem the world is facing. If one could generate paper at home , from our own kitchen waste, the paper shopping will definitely be cut down. These colourful vegetable papers are just like any other handmade paper. You can write, draw, paint, fold and create art out of it," she added.
Process Involved In Making Paper Sheets
Harsha explained the steps of making paper from vegetable waste while speaking to The Better India.
1. The first step is to arrange any vegetable peels rather than throw them into a trash bin. For getting the desired paper of one's choice, one can choose the specific peels. For example, picking onion peels for getting purple colour while for yellow colour, selecting corn husk.
2. Next comes the kitchen experiment. Putting all the peels together in a pressure cooker, to add some water and a spoon of baking soda, which will help break down the pulp. Let it cook for about 3 hours.
3. After cooking, pour the compound into a liquidiser and grind it until one gets the pulp. Then, combine the pulp with fresh cold pulp.
4. Take a sufficient amount of pulp mixture and spread it on a flat surface. Ensure all the extra water has been drained out of this mixture. A sieve or a thin cotton cloth can help in that.
5. At last, allow the spread to set for overnight. The following day, your sheet of coloured paper should be ready to be used!
The young environmentalist also shared that she was not always good at making these papers. In fact, her first attempt was a disaster. But she did not give up until she was perfect in the process.
The India Book of Records also recognised Harsha for being the youngest to make animated short films to spread awareness in 2020. During her summer vacations, Harsha came up with a novel method to save trees at zero expense. With this procedure, just ten onion peels can be used to generate 2-3 A4 size papers.
Explaining the benefits of these papers, Harsha said that these papers are 100 per cent organic and natural, do not have the stench or lousy odour, can be used in art and craft, envelopes, greeting cards etc., just like any other paper or cardboard.
In addition, the papers can be put back to the soil as fertilisers after usage, as they quickly decompose.