Vonita Singh (left) and Reeta Al Zein making paper bags at the former’s home in Jumeirah, Dubai. Image Credit: Asghar Khan/XPRESS

DUBAI: An international NGO has called on more people to adopt a paper bag-making initiative as part of its ‘My Bag My Earth' movement.

International Association for Human Values (IAHV), which is based in International Humanitarian City, kick-started the My Bag My Earth movement in 2005 with the ‘Reduce Plastic, Jute Up' campaign followed by ‘Green-Café' workshops for UAE retailers in 2009.

"We would like to see more and more people re-using their paper. Right now, IAHV is focusing on training as many people as it can to push the cause of paper bag making," said Sandhya Prakash, architect of the My Bag My Earth movement.

Earlier in May this year, UAE's Ministry of Environment and Water said plastic bags will be banned by 2013.

Plastic deadline

"We are also waiting for 2013 for the UAE government to ban plastic bags in the country. We are creating paper bag leaders so that the experience of what it is to recycle can be felt at an individual level," she said.

Reeta M. Al Zein and Vonita Singh, who have both played pioneering role in this initiative, have already conducted a number of workshops to educate parents, grandparents, teachers and students on how to make paper bags.

In January 2011, IAHV held a workshop for paper bag making for around 200 children of the Dubai International Academy (DIA). This was followed by another workshop for 30 senior students of the Eco Club of DIA in March. Last November, IAHV participated in a green exhibition in Dubai called ‘Future Green 2011' where the paper making concept was taught to many.

According to Vonita, the paper bag concept touches different people for different reasons. "Some parents are keen to have the birthday return gifts packed in paper bags. Kids are beginning to say ‘If you want your return gift done in a paper bag, then SMS my mum'!"

Sri Lankan-Australian mother-daughter pair - Varatha Kumarananthan and 14-year-old daughter Bhrindha - are doing every bit they can to introduce paper bags into their lives. "I tell my kids when they are invited to birthday parties that I will make paper bags for the return gifts. My daughter is with me on this and together we churn out hundreds of bags for birthday parties," says Varatha.

Make a bag

To make a paper bag, all you need is some paper, cardboard strips from toothpaste and cereal boxes, jute or satin string and some home-made glue. One page of a tabloid-sized newspaper is enough to make a small medicine bag.