Get Paper Industry
Get Paper Industry (GPI) is an award winning handmade paper cooperative that has been making paper and paper products in Nepal for almost 30 years. The cooperative started with 14 employees but quickly grew when it forged a supply agreement with The Body Shop International in 1989. GPI now employees over 70 people, plus an extra 700 seasonal workers, many of them women. The partnership with The Body Shop continues to this day, and GPI has other trade partnerships with groups like Ten Thousand Villages.
Nepal is among the world's poorest countries. Almost half of the country's working age population is unemployed or under-employed. Because of this, nearly 2 million people have left Nepal to seek work in other countries, leaving their families and communities behind. With Nepal's population of 27 million, GPI's employment opportunities might seem like a drop in the bucket. What stands out to me, though, is that GPI has provided job opportunities for such a long time through so much political and economic uncertainty, and the cooperative has provided employment for uneducated women, a demographic that typically has few employment opportunities in Nepal.
When GPI started in 1985, they made paper primarily from the lotka plant (like this one):
The partnership with The Body Shop introduced GPI to various recycling methods. So for the last 25 years, the cooperative has made paper from waste paper, cotton discards from the garment industry, and agricultural waste like banana fibres, straw (jute), and water hyacinth. The GPI artisans create paper pulp by mixing the recycled fibres with water. The pulp is then pressed between wooden plates to squeeze out the water and flatten the paper, and the resulting sheets are dried in the sunshine. GPI has a waste water treatment facility to filter all the water used in their manufacturing. The entire process honours handcrafted quality and environmental responsibility.
photos, Ten Thousand Villages
If making gorgeous paper products and providing sustainable employment wasn't enough, GPI also promotes community development through its sister organization General Welfare Prathisthran (GWP). Four per cent of GPI's revenue goes to GWP, which coordinates initiatives in four major areas:
It's pretty easy for me to get deliriously excited about a piece of paper. But I can get downright passionate and weepy about a piece of paper that has dried in the sunshine after being carefully mixed and pressed by a Nepalese woman working for Get Paper Industry. There's a great deal of good, compassion and strength behind that delicately textured sheet of paper.
Jane Hogeterp Koopman
Subscribe to Jane's Blog by RSS or email:
Stuff I love: