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Eco-Friendly Jobs: Raddi-Wala


In India, it is common to see folks reading their morning newspapers with their morning cuppa. Some sit on their haunches and read while others nestle on their cushy sofas and read. What do you do with all the old news papers and even magazines once they are read?

Typically, they are stacked and stored till they are sold by weight to a raddi wala ( paper dealer) at the end of the month. Based on the newspapers subscribed, it may be as little 2 kgs to as much as 10 kgs. The raddi wala sorts the papers – Glossy, English, regional, magazines, books etc and then weights each pile. He pays you for the entire lot based on the rate for each type of paper. And off he goes with the entire lot. He sells it to a whole sale raddi wala who in turn sells it to paper recycling plants.

As people are paid for this old newspaper, they save it and recycle it. Good incentive. In Mumbai, you often find these dealers walking around with a weigh scale and a large bag calling our loudly ‘raddi waley’  on Sunday mornings when they know folks are free and willing to spend a few minutes over the old paper recycling business.

Mom used to keep an eye out for the vendor on last Sunday of the month. These guys are territorial and usually you will have the same guy ( or someone from his family) visiting you to collect your old papers. They give better rates to regular customers.

Once he came up to our house, typical dialog ensued.

Kya Bhaav hai  ( What is the rate?)

Bottles bhi lekar jaoge ( Do you take bottles as well? )

And once he started measuring, more questions and warning poured in to ensure they got paid for the paper collected!

Vajan barabar hai na? ( Are the weights correct? ) This is to ensure that they are not tampered with.

Theek se taulo! ( Weight correctly!) This was to warn against cheating.

Once he came around, neighbors would start bring their papers and magazines as well and it soon turned into a mini social affair.

In Hyderabad, we asked our security guard at the complex entrance to send us a raddi wala. We had newspapers and books to give away.


Meet Mahesh. He has been doing this scrap paper business for several years. He asked me if his nephew and cousin can use the books instead of sending them to a recycling center. He weighed the books and the papers, paid me and within minutes took the entire haul away.

Before leaving, he told me he also takes scrap metal, wood and old furniture for recycling. I took his phone number so we could call him again.


Varun was fascinated mostly by the scale and the weighing that he wanted to touch it. But when I actually asked him to touch the scale, he was shy and ran away. Well, there is always next time!

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