Product Review: Elephant Dung Paper Products
Item Tested: Blank greeting cards.
Company: Mr. Ellie Pooh
Available: $4/card or 5/$15 US. Buy online or shop locally at the Calgary Zoo, Whole Foods Market in Penticton, B.C. or at select stores in the U.S.
This award-winning fair trade company is named Mr. Ellie Pooh after the main, er, ingredient in its 100% recycled handmade paper products: fibre from elephant dung. The other half of the fibre in their cards, memo pads, scrapbooks/albums, gift boxes, card stock, printer paper and business cards comes from post-consumer recycled paper. How does dung become paper? The poop is washed away leaving raw cellulose. This vegetation is sterilized to kill bacteria and combined with post-consumer paper. The pulp mixture is screened, pressed and hung to dry, just like any homemade paper.
The company’s is making dung-based paper to fund elephant conservation in Sri Lanka, where people are cutting down trees to farm, encroaching on elephant habitat and killing the animals that raid crops for food. Owner Karl Wald hopes the injection of jobs into the local economy will help the Sri Lankan people look at animals as an asset, not a threat.
Instead of shooting elephants, Sri Lankans are earning money to protect them and their habitat. The company trains local people in rural areas and pays fair wages to have them make paper and embellish the goods.
The poop comes largely from elephant orphanages. That leaves wild poop in the wild where it belongs, as a natural fertilizer needed for the land.
The blank greeting cards come in several designs and colours, with matching envelope and an insert decorated with mama and baby elephant butts. The Poo Happens collection is currently on sale. Despite their raw ingredients, don’t be expecting a stinky mess: The handmade cards look like art paper: flecked with pulp, full of character and with a surface that feels almost like felt — and a back story that’s tough to beat.
No virgin wood
The paper contains 100% recycled content, uses 44% less energy, produces 38% less greenhouse gas emissions, 41% less particulate emissions, 50% less wastewater and 49% less solid waste than paper made with virgin wood.
Made using natural vegetable-based binding agents (alum and rosin) and coloured with water-soluble salt dyes, the papers are bleach- and acid-free and about as organic as paper gets!
What’s not great
Transportation emissions Shipping products from Sri Lanka to North America is a long haul.
The paper products save trees, wildlife and jobs. The cards are nontoxic, useful, recycled, recyclable, gorgeous and fun. Sorry, can’t seem to find much to quibble with.