At least 82,000 trees, every year, are chopped to manufacture 14 billion wooden pencils, according to the World Atlas. The forests, due to massive deforestation, are under severe stress. The numbers substantiate the need for preventing the felling of trees for the sole purpose of retrieving wood to make pencils and for coming up with a sustainable alternative.
Nivedita Mitra, an engineer turned social entrepreneur from Delhi, decided to quit a well-paying job last year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, to build a start-up that would replace the traditional wooden pencils with ones made of recycled paper in a bid to offer an eco-friendly substitute.
"I worked in the technical department with the IT industry for organisations such as Infosys and Syntel before switching to the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) wing. After spending over a decade with the corporates, I decided to start my own venture. The emotion for creating a sustainable product was quite strong after handling social programmes for these organisations.
I started with the resources I had during the time. Also, since it was during the COVID-19 pandemic the finances were limited but not my passion. My start-up, Kampioen Works Pvt Ltd, started producing pencils made of 100 per cent recycled paper," Nivedita told The Logical Indian.
"To keep the design and packaging upbeat for consumers of all age, a pack of 12 paper pencils are available in a corrugated cylindrical box called Whatsup Bubbles, costing ₹252 per pack," she described.
While the production is taken care of by a third-party, Nivedita takes care of every other aspect involved in the process starting from procurement, packaging to marketing. She shared that currently, one can purchase the pencils from an e-commerce platform— Amazon. The pencils are manufactured from waste papers mainly through recycling old newspapers.
On being asked about why she chose this particular product, Nivedita said: "Without funding, I had to choose a product that was easy on my pocket and was also creating sustainable merchandise. After spending considerable time reading and researching, I zeroed in on this product. It is definitely on the higher side of pricing when considered in the Indian context but it is also crucial to understand that the production cost is higher since consumption is low right now. Educating the masses on the damage caused to the environment and making eco-friendly choices is the need of the hour."
She also said that celebrities who were in the position to influence should also consciously initiate a dialogue with the people on the ways they could contribute while picking sustainable products.