Paper manufacturing is one of the most environmentally damaging industries in the world. The major source of raw material is obtained from trees and huge numbers of trees are harvested annually .The industrialised process of paper making also involves other environmentally destructive practices such as the use of toxic chemicals including chlorine used to make the paper brighter . There are environmentally friendlier ways of making paper, ways which do not exploit natural resources and avoid the use of toxic chemicals . One of these is by making paper using elephant dung.
Why elephant dung is a brilliant choice for paper making.
Elephants are poor digesters more than 50% of the food they eat comes out as fibrous pulp. Paper is essentially fibrous pulp.
Elephants produce over 50 kg of dung per day on average. This is sufficient for making around 115 sheets of elephant paper per day per animal.
Elephants are a nuisance for farmers in Sri Lanka because they eat crops and threaten the farmers’ livelihood the income produced by the sale of elephant dung paper makes them a far more attractive beast to local farmers and they are less likely to harm them. The income also provides capital to support sanctuaries for the elephants.
The process of creating elephant paper
The elephant dung paper making process takes approximately 13 days – 3 days for drying including sorting, boiling and disinfecting; and another 10 days to pulp, mix, press and dry the paper. It uses traditional paper making techniques and the elephant dung pulp is usually mixed with recycled paper to add strength to the final product. It follows a simple process:
Collect the elephant dung
Wash and boil
Add the colours
Sift evenly into frames
Dry the paper pulp using sunlight
Smooth the surface
Create eco-freindly journals, notebooks, cards etc