Think about how many books we’ve wasted when we were back in school; how many empty pages were left by the time we were done with our semesters. I, for one, would try to split my books in half for two subjects, and try to minimise the waste as much as possible, but I remember being scolded for not being “organised”. This was, of course, when global warming and the destruction of the planet were just topics we were made to learn and not very imminent threats.
Sashika Gunawardana shared similar sentiments and tried to save all of her kids’ books and ended up with a huge pile, with no idea what to do except for wanting to reduce waste. She eventually came up with the brilliant idea of not recycling, but upcycling the books, where she tore out all the empty pages and made them into a whole new book. She’d give it a cool new cover with whatever cardboard scraps she had lying around and bind it together. She later began a charity of sorts by the name Save Pages To Save Trees, where she upcycled books and donated them to the less fortunate.
Brunch had a chat with Sashika to find out more about her venture.
She began Save Pages To Save Trees in 2019, after her kids finished their academic year and she noticed so many empty pages and barely used books. “I was thinking ‘what a waste’, and so I took out the pages and made one book at home, just to see what it looked like, and it actually turned out well,” she said, adding that then she took all the books she had collected over the years, and turned them into more useful books.
She explained that these books couldn’t be used for her kids’ school work since their school would print books exclusively for their students with the logo, but she took it upon herself to create a flyer advertising what she was doing and spread the word. “I sent this flyer to the moms’ group chat in school and it was very well received. Everyone loved what I was doing so they sent me all of their old, unused books because they too had saved them,” she stated.
All the parents came and dropped off books at hers, and that’s when she spoke to Reshma Idrees and Hajra Hussain, who became founders too, as they shared the same passion. They were full of creative and innovative ideas and took the weight of redoing the books themselves as well. “My house was starting to turn into a store room, so I was grateful to them for offering to keep some of it at their places,” Sashika added.
Since they couldn’t use these books for their children, Sashika told a book donation drive she knew, which took the books and donated them to underprivileged kids. The lady behind this had connections with orphanages in Galle and small libraries, so it was a match made in heaven. Since this drive receives funding from other countries, Sashika charged them Rs. 10 per book as a purchasing charge, but the children in need, of course, receive the books completely free.
Sashika has plans to expand into notebooks for commercial use and eventually begin something of a small business and donate the profits to children in need, as well as cover the labour cost as well as material cost that goes into making the books.
Her biggest aim with Save Pages To Save Trees is to educate children on helping the environment and reducing waste, so they understand the impact they can have in saving our home planet.
Facebook: Save Pages Save Trees