Have you ever thought about what happens to paper and trash in slums? It's an easy answer- it typically accumulates into stockpiles of waste.
In Mumbai (and many parts of India), the slums are so densely populated that it's not uncommon to see these stockpiles close where people eat/live and in the rivers. So it shouldn't be a surprise to hear that recycling is not a common practice. As we continue to think about evolving our packaging to reflect our eco-friendly objectives, we discovered the Naya Initiative through our partners at the Sundara Fund.
Simply put, the Naya Initiative employs women in the Kalwa slum (the very same place where we employ women with fair wages to recycle used hotel soap) to take paper waste from hotels and companies and recycle it into new and beautiful paper. Kalwa is home to 200,000 people where work is scarce. Despite being close to Mumbai, most women are unable to commute into the city, leading to high employment. This means women have little control over their own income and being reliant on their husbands or other male family members grants them lower power within the home.
Our repurposed bars are now being packaged with this recycled paper. When you touch it, you can feel bumps and ridges- hallmarks of handpressed paper. When you see it, you may notice specs of letters from the paper's prior life. Overall, each package is unique and we're proud to not only help this initiative in employing more women by using their paper, but we're proud to be a part of the answer in addressing the waste situation.
To learn more about the Naya Initiative and how they make the paper, check out the video below.