I love that my six-year old enjoys arts and crafts but what I don’t love is the fact that he is reckless with the usage of paper for his creative work. Abhay is very choosy about the kind of paper he picks out for drawing a picture or for his origami. The right kind of paper for Abhayart should not have any folds or anything written or printed on both sides (I have to literally bribe or threaten him into using those one-sided print rejects) and recycled paper or cheap quality computer sheets don’t even stand a chance as they don’t meet his standard size! (My mother in fact took the trouble of buying a whole bundle from Avenue Road, but to no avail!). Of course, by now you must have guessed that using old newspapers for origami is completely out of the question! No matter where we hide the bundle of A-4 copier sheets, he figures out a way to pull out a few when we are not around. Whenever he accompanies me to work during his holidays, he gets a cheap thrill out of siphoning off a few sheets from my office stationery section. My constant nagging over judicious use of paper has fallen on deaf ears...much like most of the things I nag Abhay over!
Though it is our continuous endeavour to get him to understand the value of paper and its impact on the environment, there are times we give in and I have felt terribly guilty about it. So I was glad when my husband found “The Great Paper Caper” by Oliver Jeffers, which is tale of mystery and suspense carrying a subtle message. There was once a forest where everyone was going about their own business until something strange began to happen. Suddenly, trees branches started to disappear and no one knew how or who was responsible. An investigation was ordered and each of the forest inhabitants were given a different job so that the tree thief could be caught. Finally someone found a clue – paper airplane with a bear’s paw print all over. On following the leads, it was found that the culprit was the bear who was cutting off all the tree branches in order to make paper used for practicing for the 112th Biennial Paper Airplane Competition. As the bear had to keep up his family tradition of winning the competition each time, he left no tree untouched! As the bear was rounded up for his crime, he realized his mistake and clarified that he hadn’t meant to do so much harm. He profusely apologized to the Judge who sentenced him to community service of replacing the trees that were felled, which the bear carried out diligently. As there were so many paper airplanes lying all around the forest, the forest inhabitants helped him gather up and put them all together to make a huge airplane that flew the bear to the finishing line of the competition! A quirky story narrated in a “whodunit” style with rich and imaginative illustrations that only adds to the important message of conservation. So Abhay……if you continue your indiscriminate paper wastage, be sure to suffer the same fate as the great paper caper.