Elephant dung, that is. Did you know that on average, an adult Asian elephant produces up to 500lbs of dung per day, consisting of mostly raw cellulose due to their vegetarian diet? When thoroughly cleaned and processed, the dung can be converted into uniquely textured paper products. Compared to using virgin wood, paper made with fully recycled content uses 44% less energy and produces 38 – 50% less greenhouse gas emissions, particulate emissions, wastewater, and solid waste.
On a visit to Sri Lanka in 2005, a young Dr. Karl Wald realized the predicament that elephants are in: their habitat was shrinking, and when they turned to crops for food, they were being killed by local farmers. Dr. Wald figured that by applying their freely available commodity – dung – to make commercially viable paper products, the farmers would start valuing the presence of elephants and find ways of co-existing. And so, Mr. Ellie Pooh, LLC was born.
Ellie Pooh paper now plays an important role in saving the population of Asian elephants in Sri Lanka. They train villagers to make paper and hire artisans to create their unique products, a method of papermaking that directly contributes to the local economy. As a member of the Fair Trade Federation, they fully employ the principles of fair trade:
- To create opportunities for economically and socially marginalized producers
- Develop transparent and accountable relationships
- Build capacity
- Promote Fair Trade
- Pay promptly and fairly
- Support safe and empowering working conditions
- Ensure the rights of children
- Cultivate environmental stewardship
- Respect cultural identity
Ellie Pooh paper products are 100% recycled, made up of 30% fiber from elephant dung and 70% recycled paper. No trees or toxic chemicals are used in their paper making process. They only use all-natural vegetative binding agents, along with water-soluble salt dyes for coloring. Keep an eye out for their paper products at your local zoo, or find other locations in the US.
No wonder their signature T-shirts proudly state: “POO HAPPENS….!” And in this case, we’d have to agree it is a good thing.