Little Manya Harsha calls herself a sustainability influencer who is working towards bringing a positive change in India’s waste management system. She is an active volunteer at various green initiatives and has been lauded by UN-Water for her efforts to save the environment.
What’s most inspiring is that she is only 10 years old.
An eco-activist and a Class 6 student of Vibgyor High BTM, Bengaluru, Manya spends her time campaigning for nature conservation. Having grown up among the greenery of her grandmother’s house, Manya has always possessed a love for nature. As she saw the mounting problem of garbage in the city, she knew she had to do something about it.
Ever since, she started hosting walkathons for children, created a blog to sensitise people about environment conservation, and has even authored five books on the theme of nature. Recently, Manya hosted a clean-up drive at Markonahalli Dam & Varca beach to combat the problem of incessant garbage pollution. She was also recognised by India Book of Records for being the youngest to make animated short films to spread awareness in 2020.
During the course of her summer holidays, Manya came up with a unique method to save tonnes of trees at zero cost. Using this method, just 10 onion peels can be used to make 2-3 A4 size papers.
“I wondered what else could be done with all the kitchen waste generated at homes and finally decided to try and recycle it into paper,” says Manya.
This young environmentalist shares steps with The Better India on how to make paper from vegetable peels.
- First, gather the peels of any vegetable instead of throwing it into the dustbin. Manya suggests using specific peels to get the desired coloured paper. For instance, onion peels would make a purple coloured sheet while corn husk would make a rough yellow one.
- Next up is the kitchen experiment. Throw in the peels into a cooker along with water and a spoon of baking soda. Let it cook for about 3 hours. “The baking soda helps break down the pulp,” says Manya.
- When the time is up, transfer the compound into a liquidiser and grind it to get the pulp. This pulp is to be mixed with fresh water.
- Take the pulp mixture and spread it on a flat surface. Make sure that all the excess water is drained out of this mixture. This can be done by spreading it on a sieve or thin cotton cloth.
Leave the spread overnight for it to set. The next morning, your sheet of coloured paper should be ready to be used!
Sharing her experience, Manya tells us how her first attempt at making paper was a disaster. But through sheer perseverance she continued to perfect the process until she could make sheets of different colours and textures. “Eventually, you can go on to use the beautiful flower petals left behind during the festive season or even the lush green betel leaves for some soft textured paper,” she advises.
Edited by Yoshita Rao