Monday, May 16, 2011

Elephant dung paper

Elephant poo after red dye has been added

While I was in Thailand, I noticed a lot of things that were recycled and reused (even the glass Coke bottles have rust around the top as they have been washed out and filled up again). But hands down, my favourite eco-friendly thing I saw was at an elephant conservation park where they make paper from elephant dung!

First the poo is washed and boiled to kill and bacteria (apparently this is not as bad as it sounds as I was told that elephant poo doesn't smell). A mild environmentally-friendly bleach is added, then the dung is spun for three hours to cut the fibers. Colour is added, then it's spread out over a frame to dry in the sun. But the best part about this process is that the paper is made into products that are sold and the profits are returned to the elephant conservation where they can buy food and medicine.

Some examples of the final product

I would have loved to buy some paper, but I couldn't because of Australia's strict quarantine laws about bringing animal and plant products into the country. I did end up buying a painting by an elephant, which I was super-duper happy about. You can read more info about elephant dung paper here.

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