Published: 21st May 2018
Meet the man who's trying to save one lakh trees by getting schools to use his eco-friendly pencils
From bamboo toothbrush to pencils from recycled newspaper, Rajesh Singh's GoGraameen is empowering traditional artisans with their eco-friendly products
Rajesh Singh, a 52-year-old entrepreneur from Maharashtra set up GoGraameen, an online portal for eco-friendly products with an aim to promote local artisans.
However, their most innovative and eco-friendly product are pencils made from recycled newspaper, "The funny thing about this product is that, it has been in the Indian market for the last 10 years and almost 15 companies have been producing it. But most people I talk to, only come to know about such pencils when I tell them about it and its advantages," Rajesh says.
Instead of the wooden covering that we see normally in pencils, GoGraameen's pencils have recycled newspaper as its covering. "In India, more than one lakh trees are felled each year just for making pencils, with the eco-friendly pencils we hope to save as many trees as possible," explains Rajesh about his product.
Green pencils: Though recycled pencils have been available in India for the past 10 years, it mostly goes unnoticed due to stiff competition from popular makers
To push for its mass adoption, Rajesh has approached various schools and NGOs, "Schools like the Delhi Public School have agreed to adopt our pencil. We have also entered into talks with Orchid International School," says Rajesh when asked about the pencil's success among its takers. "They are all keen about this idea but, some of the school heads suggested that we make the exterior coating colourful so that it will be attractive for the children. But, we decided against it as it would mean we will have to use chemicals, which we are completely against," Rajesh adds.
It was an encounter with a local man in Himachal Pradesh that inspired Rajesh to start GoGraameen. "I was vacationing in Himachal and in a small village there, I happened to see a local trader being forced to sell handmade soaps for an extremely cheap rate and his miserable condition broke my heart, " recalls Rajesh
On his return, Rajesh quit his job and started the website in 2013 with the sole intention of providing a livelihood for artisans across India, "Presently, we have different products made by 10 different artisans in our website. I am not taking up more artisans as I want to ensure that those are currently working for me are benefitted properly," Rajesh says.
To know more about their initiative visit: http://www.gograameen.com/