Our beads are hand-crafted out of all forms of paper waste including discarded magazines, cardboard packaging, calendars, posters and flyers. Paper waste constitutes a large part of our society's solid waste at 40% and our aim is to turn at least some of this into beautiful, desirable products - and our mothers into environmental warriors.
If this waste paper is not recycled it is either incinerated or consigned to landfills. If it is burnt it adds carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere. If it ends up in landfills it eventually decomposes releasing methane in the process. Methane is another greenhouse gas which is over 20 times more powerful at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Communications - books, magazines, newspapers and suchlike - used to make up the bulk of our paper usage. This has now been overtaken by paper packaging.
Mothers for All is proud to say that we have found a way to make beautiful beads out of both types of waste paper. It is amazing to see how a cereal, tea or even toothpaste box can be transformed into an attractive bead and then item of jewellery. Our mothers are experimenting all of the time and recently made gorgeous brown beads out of the paper lining of a large dog food packet! They go from household to household collecting paper waste and can often be overheard discussing the merits of calendars versus magazines, and Weetbix boxes versus All Bran ones. The Mothers for All coordinator in Palaype, Mali Sobotta, who lived right in the heart of the village, remarked that the area around one of our mother's huts was now immaculate where previously it was littered with all sorts of paper rubbish.
Below are some of the waste paper products used to make beads and a necklace created using brown paper beads made from the lining of the dog food packet.
We also use EU-certified environmentally friendly varnish for the beads, recycled paper for the packaging cards and recyclable polythene for the packaging. And as soon as biodegradable film bags made out of corn become available in this part of the world, we will switch to those. Otherwise we are experimenting with other products to make out of waste paper and other scrap materials such as handmade paper and cards, and papier mache bowls.
Our women are all becoming familiar with the new three Rs - Recycle, Reuse and Reduce. And they are taking this message into local schools. They are truly becoming environmental warriors and we hope to soon roll out our permaculture workshops so that they can learn how to further reduce their carbon footprints while at the same time increasing their own household food security.
Left: Betty showing school children how to roll paper beads