Most people think of elephants as roaming the African Serengeti, but in South Asia, they’ve been used as work animals for centuries. More recently, though, they’ve come under threat in the island nation of Sri Lanka.
They suffered greatly during the two decades-long civil war, especially from injuries caused by landmines. Today, this menace has abated, but the conflict between human and elephant continues. Farmers, especially, see these gentle giants as threats to their crops. Each eats over 300 pounds of vegetable matter a day, and they poop – a lot.
This is not their fault, of course, but these piles of doo-doo quickly add up. Because much of it consists of vegetable fibers that have only been partially broken down, it’s not really that useful as fertilizer – but it does make it the perfect raw material for paper.
The raw material is washed, boiled and then mixed with 70% recycled paper before being cut up, dyed, pressed into sheets and allowed to dry. The resulting product does not look anything like what you put in your printer; instead, it has a pleasingly textured feel.
Local Sri Lankan craftsmen then transform it into a number of attractive products: notebooks, greeting cards, gift boxes and even business cards. Only natural dyes are used – in fact, unlike with mass-produced paper, no toxic chemicals are involved at all.
Since the company is based on Fair Trade and sustainability principles, every product you buy helps to create jobs and conserve trees, directly. This helps people to see their local elephants as resources, not nuisances; and you can also choose to donate 20% of your order price to the Wildlife Alliance to fund further conservation efforts.
And finally, in case you were wondering, the paper does not smell!