Posted in Homemade eco& zero waste recipes, March 2016, Uncategorized

Make paper at home!

Make a beautiful handmade paper at your home!

You need:

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shredded paper (Image from
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A4 mesh wire frame, and a4 mesh less frame (Image from
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muslin cloth (Image from
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tub (Image from classic
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Bucket (Image from
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Roling pin (Image from
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Jug (Image from
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Grinder (Image from
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Alum powder (Image from


Follow Vatavaran’s Basic steps to make a handmade paper:

  1. Sock overnight half a bucket of shredded paper in water in which a pinch of alum powder has been mixed
  2. Grind the socked paper to pulp
  3. Fill the tub half with water, add a mug of pulp and stir
  4. On the mesh wire frame stretch muslin and place the mesh less frame, hold it with both hands, sway it into the mixture.
  5. The pulp will form a thin uniform layer on muslin; wait for extra water to drip down.
  6. Move to dry area, remove the mesh less frame, and sun the muslin piece which has A4 size wet paper on it
  7. When the paper is still moist, straighten it with the rolling pin

To make a coloured paper:

Add one of these natural products after step 3:

Turmeric –yellow

Henna – green

Katha – brown

Beet Root – light magenta

Indigo – blue

You can also design your own paper with adding flowers, grass or any kind of leaves of your preference!

So easy it is!


Katja Polc, Member of Vatavaran team


Posted in March 2016, Uncategorized

Is recycling the paper really so environmentally friendly?


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Sometimes I got a feeling that the whole society thinks that paper is really not an issue anymore. No matter what, we are recycling it right? So, why so many environmentalists are still jumping on our heads and screaming that we should use both sides of the paper and use it as less as possible?

Moreover, so many organizations, corporations and individuals find themselves as extremely environmentally friendly, since they are collecting and recycling the paper. I, myself thought for a very long time that companies which are recycling the paper are doing a good job. Unfortunately, in the end of the day I found another truth.

The whole paper recycling process starts in our bins at home. If the paper is mixed with wet waste the paper probably will not be in the condition for recycling at all. But if it is segregated, waste managers will pick up your paper and it will be sorted into various categories including office paper, magazines, newspapers, paperboards and cardboards.

The recycling process shortens the fibers and cellulose can be only recycled four to six times before it become degrade paper quality. Therefore paper from each category can only be recycled into the product of lesser quality. For example, office paper gets turned into magazines, magazines into newspaper, etc. So, there is a real end for paper as well. At the paper mill factories, paper first needs to be cleaned, screened with ink removal; which involves water bath, deinking process and bleaching with peroxides to get back the brightness material. After that the renewed pulp is turned into paper.(

As seen through the process, even recycling paper from the mills is not really environmentally friendly.

  • It is energy intensive –the pulp and paper industry is the world’s fifth largest industrial consumer of energy (According to Worldwatch institute)
  • It uses huge amount of water
  • Coatings, fillers and optical brighteners – the residue from the fillers and coatings is usually sent to landfill.
  • It generates large amount of pollutants and waste into surrounding air and water. Some of them are greenhouse gases which contribute to the global climate change. In the surroundings can effect local people and wildlife with acid rain and degradation of freshwater
  • The paper making process also generates large amounts of solid waste which must be disposed, the sludge from the fillers, coatings, wood fibres etc.

 It seems that we can find the real solution somewhere else. Vatavaran recommends:

  • reducing the use of paper and saving important natural resources.
  •  making a handmade paper  

(You want to responsible dispose your waste paper? Contact us and we will take care of it! Write to us:


Katja Polc, Member of Vatavaran team



Posted in March 2016, Uncategorized

This Holi will be special: make chemical free colours at home!

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Natural colours for Holi (Image from

Let Holi be a celebration of friendship, love, colors, happiness and triumph of good.  Get into the Holi spirit with the onset of New Year and you will have the unobtrusive, incurrence, eye pleasing natural colors. Delhi people are lucky that spring is before Holi. Collect flowers and dry them in shade.

RED: Semul, china roses, roses, Indian Coral tree flowers

ORANGE RED: Begonia, Naustrasium

YELLOW: Pansies, sunflowers, marigolds and peela kaner

GREEN: Henna or other leaves of various kinds for greens

All that is needed is a visit to a forest, a garden to collect leaves, seeds, bark of trees, flowers, fruits and peels etc. Put flowers of Semul/ Tesu or Palas/ Dhak  (trees which are common in India and bloom during March) in water and boil. Leave overnight to obtain reddish or saffron color.

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Begonia for orange red colour (Image from:


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Henna leaves for green colour (Image from

The steps to make your own wet and dry colors are:

  1. Dry the color source in shade.
  2. Powder the dried material coarsely.
  3. Soak the powder in water for 30 minutes.
  4. Boil this water for 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. Cool it, filter it and keep it till you want to use it.
  6. Dry the residue in shade. Powder it finely and if you wish mix it with one of the natural bases. This becomes the dry Holi color, ready to be used.

Kitchen products also come handy to make natural colors. Use dried and grounded Orange peels, Lemon Peels, pomegranate peels or Sandalwood. To make natural pastes use Rose water. Mix a spoon of powdered haldi in a cup of gram flour for dry yellow color great for skin too or mix Haldi powder in water to make a wet color or mix it with lime powder to get reddish color.

Chopped pieces of Beetroot soaked in water for a few hours give a wonderful magenta color.

Natural products and their Colors

  1. Saffron    –              Brilliant yellow
  2. Turmeric –              Yellow & Orange Brown
  3. Henna –                   Orange Red
  4. Manjistha –             Rust Red
  5. Katha –                      Brown
  6. Beet Root –              Magenta
  7. Indigo –                    Rich Blue
  8. Chlorophyll –         Green
Saffron for brilliant yellow colour (Image from
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Beetrot for Magenta  colour (Image from
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Indigo for blue colour (Image from

Vatavaran demands:

A cottage industry is setup, to generate useful/ harmless natural colors as well as generate employment. Replace the current toxin laden colors and become part of the contentious Indians and resurrect the real Holi.

The introduction of natural colors should be supplemented by a complete ban on the current colors in market, heavy in concentrations of Sudan Red, Metanil Yellow, Malachite Green and Salts of metals like lead, chromium, mercury, etc.


Dr. Iqbal Malik, Founder and Director


Posted in March 2016, Uncategorized

Holi and the chemical colour makers lobby

One the most popular festival of season is coming soon. Holi is a colourful and one the most popular festivals. It is a festival, with dancing, singing and throwing of powder paint and coloured water.  Unfortunately these colours have extremely hazardous effect on our health and environment. Read this scientific paper, written by Dr. Iqbal Malik, Founder and Director of Vatavaran.

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Image from


A festival intended to commemorate the conventional historic triumph of good over evil has been transmutated over time. The masses did not even realize that they were playing in the hands of the chemical color makers lobby. Over the time almost all colors available during Holi became concoctions of chemicals. All three categories – Wet colors, Dry powders, or Pastes are toxic, allergic and have health hazards. See the scientific paper*.

Wet Colors:

The colorants, which are different chemicals for different colors, are mixed in water. In addition to hazards of the colorant, the water wastage is highest on Holi day.

Dry Colors

When you smear someone in pink, it actually is Rhoda mine B, if the color is violet or blue it actually is Methyl Violet, green is Malachite Green and yellow is Aura mine. All these are prohibited under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Holi Pastes

The most dangerous Holi rubs are the pastes. Silver, Gold, Metallic, Green, Blue and Black pastes are not only most easy to procure and cheapest. Their cost varies from rupees 5 to rupees 10 per tin containing 100 grams of the mixed paste. The colorants are also available in small pouches, which can be mixed in any type of oil.  Cost of these pouches is from rupees 2 to rupees 10. Mostly the chemicals are mixed in engine oil. The concoction not only harms the skin but also is difficult to get rid of easily. Sadly in the name of Holi even pure coal tar, discarded engine oil or grease are also used as Holi rubs. To clear the skin of all these rubs kerosene oil is the most commonly used remover. This further dries the damaged skin.




Asbestos Talc

Corn Starch

Builds up in body tissue
Dries and chaps the skin
Medium for bacterial growth 


Dry Colors/ colorant



Red Lead chromate, mercuric iodide
Blue Cobalt nitrate, indigo, zinc salts
Yellow Metanil yellow, sunset yellow
Green Malachite green, Nickel sulfate


Methyl Violet

Rhoda mine B


Chemicals in Pastes and their health Hazards



Black Engine oil + Lead Oxide Renal failure
Green Engine oil +Copper Sulphate Eye allergy, puffiness and temp. Blindness
Silver Engine oil + Aluminum bromide Carcinogenic
Blue Engine oil + Prussian Blue Contract dermatitis
Red Engine oil + Mercury Sulphite Highly Toxic Skin cancer
Bajaj Monika, MD Kumar Viredra, MD
Malik Iqbal, Ph.D.
Arora Praveeen, MD Dubey N K, MD
From: The Department of Pediatrics, Kalavati Saran Children’s Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi
And Vatavaran (NGO- Working on socio-environmental Issues)


 The inhalation of noxious chemical substances and heavy metals is a known cause of chemical pneumonitis and acute as well as chronic lung injury. Occupational exposure is more often a cause for the same. However, significant exposure to chemical may occur due to accidental inhalation during domestic activities, hobbies, and festivals (1,2). We report here a case of accidental “gulal” aspiration during Holi festival.

Case report:

A previously well, six year old boy, presented with sudden onset of cough and respiratory distress following accidental aspiration of “gulal” during Holi festival. He was treated for one day at a nearby private hospital, before being referred to Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, New Delhi.

On arrival, patient was conscious but excessively irritable and had marked respiratory distress. His heart rate was 140 beats per minute, respiratory rate 96 breaths per minute, with marked intercostals and subcostal recession, but there was no cyanosis. Blood pressure was 100/70 mm Hg. On auscultation of chest, air entry was markedly diminished with bilateral rhonchi. Clinical examination of other system was unremarkable.

Investigations revealed hemoglobin – 13 gm/dl, TCL-24000cells/Cmm with 66% polymorphs, blood urea-59 mg/dl, serum keratinize – 0.5 mg/dl, serum Na+ – mEq/L, serum K+ -5.36 mEq/L. Chest X-ray revealed bilateral patchy pneumonitis especially involving right middle and lower zones. Arterial bloods gas analysis revealed pH- 7.365, pO2 58.2 pCO2 –49.6, HCO3-20.4, O2 saturation –88.7%.

Patient was treated symptomatically with humidified oxygen, intravenous fluids, and salbutamol and ipratropium bromide nebulizations. He was stared on I/V hydrocortisone (10 mg/Kg/day), crystalline penicillin (2 lac IL/Kg/day) and chloromycetin  (100 mg/Kg/day) in divided doses. Due to clinical suspicion of supper-added infection, antibiotics were changed to I/V cerftriazone  (100 mg/Kg/day) and netilmycin (7.5 mg/Kg/day) on day three. Special attention was given to chest physiotherapy, and 3% saline nebulisation was given to encourage expectoration and removal of aspirated substance from the reparatory tract.

On day four the patient developed subcutaneous emphysema over chest and neck. Repeat chest X-ray showed bilateral extensive pneumonitis and mediastinal emphysema (Figure-1). Patient however did not require any surgical intervention for the same.

Patient subsequently maintained arterial gas (pH-7.51, pO2-70.5, pCO2-36.4, HCO3-25.6, O2 saturation-94.4%)and improve steadily. He was discharged after two week of therapy. After stabilization of his respiratory distress, spirometric assessment of pulmonary function (PFT) revealed severe restricted pattern  (FVC- 0.54L, 45.95% of predicted value; FEV1 0.54L, 52.5% of predicted; FEF25-75%-0.68L/sec, 52.32% of predicted). At one month follow up patient was asynptomatic, chest X-ray had normalized, spirometry revealed however continued to show a restrictive pattern, thought less in severity (FVC- 0.89L, FEV1– 0.89L, FEF25-75%– 1.21L/sec). Six month later spirometry revealed normalization of pulmonary function (FVC- 1.16L, FEV1– 1.04L, FEF25-75%– 1.45L/sec).


The dangers associated with aspiration of foreign material into the airway have been chronicled in medical literature for over 350 years, and airways foreign bodies continue to be a problem frequently encountered by pediatric practitioners. Foreign body aspiration is most frequent in the 1-5 years age group, with 85% cases occurring in children less than three years of age.

Item frequently found in the environment of a child, such as nuts, shells, candies, grapes, pears, jewelry, small toys etc. are the ones that pose a risk for entering and occluding the airway. Aspiration of powder like substances expect for talcum powder and soot in burn injury, are less frequently encountered in children.

Gulal, a seemingly innocuous powder substance has been traditionally used, to smear over face during the festival of Holi, since ancient time. Environmental experts and doctors are only to aware of the hazards of these innocent looking colors, namely triggering of skin allergies, impairment of vision, precipitation of asthmatic attacks etc. this is for the first time, that we encountered a child with massive aspiration and restrictive pulmonary disease due to gulal.

In our case, the gulal could not be procured and no attempt had been made at bronchoscopic aspiration and of the material aspirated, in view of the extreme sickness of child and delay in arrival to our hospital after the incident. Chemical nature of the same is therefore difficult child to comment upon. However, one may hypothesize, that lung injury is caused both by the physical i.e. powdery, nature of the substance as well as heavy metals, chemicals and hydrocarbons that go into the preparation of these colors.

Powder like consistency of the gulal, result in it being drawn into distal airways almost instantly like in the case of any other powder and this probably causes acute respiratory distress, obstruction, atelecatesis, hyperinflation, and air-leak. With the help of a non-government organization (Vatavaran), chemical analysis of different sample of used during Holi was done.  It seems possible that the material aspirated by this child, had traces of lead and mercury. Review of literature revealed case report of mercury inhalation injury, which presented in similar manner with respiratory distress, Air-leak and restrictive lung disease (3). We managed our patient symptomatically. Systematic steroids have been used but without definite role to reduce inflammatory process and fibrosis in chemical pneumonitis  (4). They have of late proven to be of benefit in patients with mercury induced acute lung injury (4). In our patient, they may have benefited by reducing airways inflammation as well bronchospasm. Air-lack can occur in cases of chemical pneumonitis especially those resulting from hydrocarbons aspiration or mercury vapor inhalation (5). Conservative management is advocated for the same, and patients usually improve, as was witnessed in our case too.