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Can paper be made without trees?

Updated: Jun 1, 2022

It is said you need about 24 trees to make a ton of standard office paper. As someone who believes in sustainable living, this is an issue I care about deeply. I had heard about how cotton bits, a byproduct of fashion textile production could be used to make paper, and that had peeked my curiosity.


To explore whether paper can be made without trees, I made my way to Salim's Paper Factory in Jaipur, Rajasthan during my last visit to India. This factory is one of the largest handmade paper factory in India.


The practice of turning cotton into paper definitely seemed more environmentally friendly than cutting trees because it after production, it left no additional environmental impact.

On my visit to Jaipur, I realized that most people in the city knew of this institution. The factory was about 30-45 minutes from the downtown Jaipur city and for those interested in this sustainability effort, here is some more information: Address - 282, Gramodyog, 1, New Sanganer Rd, Jagatpura, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302029, India.


This company does not rely on tourists - It has been around for three generations now and exports 80 % of what it manufacturers. Artisans were finishing up a huge order from Wal-Mart during our visit - you might see something familiar if you walk in the gift bags and paper isles at Walmart during winter holidays!


The factory tour was free but we called (+91 141 273 0222) to check if the factory was open and if they would show us around. They had agreed so I rounded up my parents and my mom-in-law to join me on this trip.


I made a three-minute video to capture all the things I saw there. In this video, you will see:

- Scraps of cotton bits and bags of cotton waste and how they are processed and turned into colored paper

- How paper is dried and then screen-printed, some as chart paper and others are tissue papers for gift bags

- The crafting of gift bags: Hand-making and punching of bags - probably over a hundred an hour

- The industrial, labor-intensive feel of these shops and how so many artisans in this industry make their living

I learned so much in this visit. I have a new appreciation for cotton bits and renewed respect for sustainable efforts. Everything in the factory was so organized and streamlined, the facility was huge and our tour guide was simply the best! Such a memorable visit 🙂


LA-based Green Sea Shells is an online magazine that encapsulates the vibrant essence of Indian-American life, culture, and family travel. Join our community and subscribe to our complimentary monthly newsletter, Roots & Routes.

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