Basic Breakdown

Ethical Paper-Making

Basic Breakdown: Ethical Paper


There is a modern trend towards sustainability in not only the paper industry but in all aspects of modern life. The aim is to reduce deforestation, water use, greenhouse gas emission and fossil fuel consumption. Sustainable papermaking is one of the ways we can do this, by using materials that will naturally regenerate over time and materials that are non-harmful to the environment when used. 

As individuals become more and more knowledgeable about the materials they would like to use in their process handmade paper has seen a boost in popularity over recent years. Artists and crafters seem to adore its unique, textured and purposeful makeup, and utilise it for a variety of techniques. As the name suggests, handmade papers are made by hand in a batch process not a continuous roll as found on papermaking machines. This batch process means that sheets will all have unique colouring and textures. This unique makeup is one of the reasons these sheets are desirable, as the varying tones and textures showcase the natural process that goes into making them. 


Khadi Rag Papers

Khadi Rag Papers

As the 21st century progresses it is becoming more and more pertinent for artists to seek out sustainable materials that don't affect the environment in a negative way. Khadi Papers are a leader in sustainable paper making as all of their products are made in a sustainable manner. 

Their cotton that is used for paper making comes from off cuts of cotton t-shirts which arrive in massive jute sacks. The cotton is then used in the manufacturing process with the jute being recycled as paper also. None of the paper produced by Khadi are made from wood pulp and as such there is no negative repercussion on India's forests. 

Deforestation is the clearing of forested land for the purposes of farming or using the timber for production and manufacturing. Whilst positive in concept, giving farmers space to store livestock and grow crops. When done on a larger scale deforestation can become a big issue for the environment and the local fauna. In actuality, the paper industry is one of the biggest drivers of this deforestation, accounting for roughly 20 percent of deforestation in the 2000’s. As one fifth of the world deforestation is done by paper manufacturers, companies like Khadi set to change the norm and showcase how paper can be made in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner. 


Lokta Papers

Lokta Natural Papers

For example, Lokta paper is a completely sustainable paper. The bark is stripped from the lokta bush above ground level, this maintains the plants radial root, allowing it to re-grow in 3-4 years for another harvest. The trimmings are then used as fuel for other parts of the process. Khadi Papers have developed a method of using soda ash instead of caustic soda when preparing the lokta fibres, this non toxic method not only produces stronger, more durable paper but it also can be reused. As the run-off can be used as a fertiliser for crops, the whole process in this way is eco-friendly and sustainable. 

One of the key ingredients in paper making is water, and the whole process is dependent on it. Khadi collects water from their own bore well which captures rainwater, to then use in their papermaking process. The “virgin” water is used for the white papers as it doesn't have any colouring or tints to it. Then it is recycled for the light tones, then the dark tones and any crop fibre papers. The final run-off is also PH neutral as no chlorine or bleach has been used in the manufacturing process, and thus the water can be used for other things. Clairefontaine also use a similar process and only use water from the nature reserve their mill is on.


Image Credits:

Sandra Manchester