A Palestinian couple has launched a project to turn recycled paper into eco-friendly drawing boards, which they hope will help tackle the environmental pollution caused by paper waste.
GAZA, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- A Palestinian couple from the Gaza Strip has been recycling tons of paper waste into eco-friendly drawing boards.
Huda Thabet and her husband Salem, who live in al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, came up with the idea two months ago when they found themselves in front of piles of paper waste and wanted to get rid of it.
"For many years, I used to train thousands of students and teach them how to change bad behaviors," the 40-year-old mother of four told Xinhua.
Huda has written children's stories over the years, including "The Honey Notebook," a series that help children understand economic ideas, such as budget preparation and planning.
In addition, she was training students in schools of the Ministry of Education and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on creative writing.
While doing so, she found hundreds of thousands of drafts were used by students, and decided to recycle them.
"At first, I found about one ton of paper waste," Huda said. "Because we (my husband and I) care so much about the environment, we decided to recycle the piles of paper into eco-friendly materials rather than throw them onto the streets."
According to the couple, the recycling process is done in several stages. The first involves shredding the stacked paper, then soaking it in hot water with other materials for four days until it is kneaded and water is squeezed out.
After completing all the previous stages, the couple checks the quality of the paintings, using all colors and engraving on them.
"After that, you will have a usable palette for drawing," Salem said as he flashed a smile, adding that "smooth and rough palettes can be designed too."
"These painting boards are safe and eco-friendly and can be used in more than one direction. For example, the painting can be erased and a new painting can be redrawn on the same board, and it can be disposed of by soaking it with water or soil and it will decompose," he explained.
Environmental Engineer Yusriya Ramadan from the Ministry of Local Government said that recent studies indicated that paper and cardboard waste in the Gaza Strip, about 144 tons a day, constitutes 12 percent of the total amount of waste generated.
This is why the couple is looking forward to expanding their project and developing it through partnerships with local investors.
However, the couple faces some difficulties, such as the continuous power cuts, the lack of human resources, and the unavailability of modern equipment, which cause a significant delay in the production process.
They hope that their project will be a method for solving the existing problem of environmental pollution caused by paper waste.
Students of the College of Fine Arts, as well as painters in general, are in urgent need of canvas paper, but they suffer from its high price, often poor quality, and the lack of the required sizes throughout the year.
Samia Mohammed from Gaza City praised the drawing boards produced by the couple. She said that the painting boards could be used on two sides, and they are cheaper and more affordable.
"I am so happy to apply my paintings on such eco-friendly painting boards," she said, adding that she will participate in an exhibition for arts in Gaza soon to show people how eco-friendly products can help humans and the environment.