Paper Bag Day- Let’s look into some unique initiatives empowering rural women

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Do you know that paper bags were invented and used way before plastic bags even came into existence? It is quite obligatory for us to know that the paper bags became a part of people's daily life with an invention made by an American inventor, Francis Wolle, who has been credited for his patent of the first paper bag machine in 1852. Margaret E. Knight the “Mother of Grocery Bags” in 1870 designed the square, flat bottomed bag, and the machine that would fold and paste them decades before the plastic bags were introduced in 1979.

Today millions have switched back to their early counterpart of grocery bags i.e the paper bags which are ecological, handy and recyclable. But why are we talking about paper bags? On 12th July, across the globe, people celebrate “paper bags day” steered to spread awareness about using environment-friendly paper bags instead of the single-use plastic bags which take ages to get decomposed. So, we went a step ahead to find out the initiatives of paper bags that have touched the rural space and bring to you their stories.

Socio-economic and Eco-biological development scheme of Rural India through Paper bag industry

The sheer effort of the Ministry of skill development responsible for the coordination of all skill development practices across the country and the removal of disconnect between demand and supply of skilled labor in Rural India is a formal step that has boosted the paper bag industry in India. This has also supported any individual or small group to be able to start a start-up to make various types of paper bags, fully concentrated on demand of the area and with experience can grow the business to a larger scale. By this, the ministry not just aims towards socio-economic development but in a parallel perspective, the GOI wants rural India & the urban consumers to move away from single-use plastic by creating the availability of an alternative for the people.

Paper wings to women in rural India

In a great initiative to bring together homemakers in and around Pune, Eco Ad set up a paper bags making enterprise where all the women participating in this initiative makes these paper bags and earn a living out of this. The initiative believes in empowering the last mile women groups in developing their skills of making paper bags and engaging with the start-up to earn a living.

Photos: WomenOnWings

NGO by an Architect promoting rural women and organic lifestyle

Being an Architect, creativity was what Kokila Deshpande was quite familiar with, using her skills to create a paper bag from a discarded newspaper with a unique folding technique without the use of any adhesive or tapes was the idea which gave birth to making of the NGO, Ayvakta. Driven by the motive to end the adverse effect caused by plastic bags to our biodiversity across the globe, the architect designed a bag that is easy to manufacture and use waste paper as the only raw material which otherwise goes to the Raddiwala,

What makes this initiative by the 36-year-old Pune based entrepreneur interesting is whom did she choose with her to take this initiative forward. Do architects or professionals like her? No, the makers of these unique bags are the homebound rural women who have learned new skills and of which most are first time wagers.


Even though there are discourses regarding paper bags, but this skill has led to securing the livelihoods of many rural women. This is where the Ministry of Skill Development or great initiatives like these come into play that incorporates the women of rural India to manufacture a product and empower their livelihoods.

- Yedhu