Making tables, chairs, and toys in Zimbabwe -- from waste paper

Bevill Packer jumps up and down on his paper tables and dashes his paper chairs to the floor. They're often stronger than wood, he declares, and they help save trees and energy. Mr. Packer, a retired college lecturer, is a proponent of a craft he developed in the late 1970s and dubbed ``appropriate paper-based technology'' -- making things out of waste paper.

Today, Packer's products, ranging from tables to toys to bowls to baskets, furnish schools and homes in rural Zimbabwe. His latest product, a paper wheelchair, is being tried out at a home for disabled children.

Materials cost virtually nothing, their manufacture provides employment and they promote conservation.

Saving trees is of benefit in Africa, where about 80 percent of the energy is derived from wood. In Zimbabwe, many rural women spend half the day gathering firewood for cooking and deplete the forests.

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