creating recycled paper picture frames

creating recycled paper picture frames

On today’s agenda was a visit to Papula Paper, a fair trade paper making outfit that has a very special place in my heart.

Papula Paper was started in 2006 by the founder of Uganda Crafts, Betty. Betty wanted to start a fair trade project in her home district of Mpigi, and was given some startup money for a building. She chose to build a paper workshop and retail space just a minute’s walk south of the equator, a popular stopping point for tourists on their way to some of Uganda’s national parks. In 2006, my friend Muireann and I took a trip to the building site and helped design the building. We also brainstormed names for the new project. My suggestion won in the end: Papula Paper (from the Luganda word for Paper, olupapula.

Coming back to Uganda and seeing the success of Papula has been really exciting for me. So it’s no surprise that today’s trip and meeting with them was a lot of fun.

Lillian, one of Betty’s daughters and one of the managers at the Equator location, took the time to show us around the workshop and explained the paper making process. The papers that Papula creates are all made using recycled or natural materials. Farmers bring the tops of pineapples, elephant grass, and old banana fibers and sell them to the workshop. Individuals and organizations donate old printed pieces of paper. These materials are the basis for the paper, which can later be turned into a bunch of different products: stationary, greeting cards, boxes, notebooks, etc.

cute stationary in a pretty little box.

cute stationary in a pretty little box.

Papula’s products are beautiful and it’s cool to see how discarded materials can be put into use again. Papula is also notable for its commitment to the community of disabled individuals in Mpigi. Several of the full-time workshop staff are disabled, and many others from the community bring their work to the retail shop to be sold as well.

Having watched Papula Paper grow from just an idea to a successful project promoting environmental sustainability and employing dozens of local community members, I can’t help but be optimistic for its future.

lillian demonstrates for us

lillian demonstrates for us

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