Unusual Sources of Paper: No.1 Elephants
They say travel broadens the mind and for Laura Streets not only did her trip to Sri Lanka spark questions about the environment and sustainability but also introduced Laura to Ellie Poo.
Pachyderm Poo Paper - or Ellie Poo as we call it
As a child I was taught that paper is made from trees and that paper production is a major contributor to deforestation across the world, especially in the Amazon.
Now older, and hopefully wiser, I see conservation issues have become less black and white, and there is no easy answer to the deforestation issue - and where once paper manufacturers were once the ‘bad guy’, these days many companies make great efforts to ensure that their manufacturing methods are as sustainable as possible.
What’s more, there are actually a number of alternative natural resources that can be used to manufacture paper.
Where there’s muck, there’s paper
During a recent trip to Sri Lanka, volunteering for the Millennium Elephant Foundation, I was shown a small paper factory adjacent to the building. I couldn’t believe that such a modest little building contained a fully-functioning mechanical factory!
The next surprise was the lack of heavy machinery - but surely paper production requires vast amounts of equipment? Apparently not!
The little factory in Kegalle, Sri Lanka is staffed by about 5 people, once they’ve made the paper they dry it by hanging it across a rope in the sunshine, like colourful bunting in front of the sanctuary.
But the most surprising thing about this factory is the raw material used to make the paper - elephant dung! And one of my roles, I also discovered, was to deliver several barrows full of dung to the factory workers. They would then set about making various paper products, which were sold to raise funds for the charity.
Other sources for paper
As someone who hadn’t thought about paper manufacturing before this got me thinking... what other resources can be used?
And after a quick search it became apparent that there is a huge list of materials that can be used! Grass, hair and even lint from tumble driers! Almost any fibrous material can be turned into paper, although the final product may not closely resemble the reams or rolls that we’re used to seeing.
Manufacturing your own paper at home using household waste is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint, but only if you have at least an hour week going spare and you only require one or maybe two pieces of non-uniform paper!
Thanks to the efforts made by paper management companies like Gould Publication Papers, sustainable practices in the industry are on the rise.
At Gould Publication Papers we take sustainability seriously and our Environmental Policy Statement can be read here - Sustainability for Paper and Print Buyers
This guest blog was written by L. Streets, volunteer and traveller