Image: Courtsey of Mr. Ellie Pooh
Sri Lanka is one of the South East Asian countries that was devastated by civil war in the past years. On a positive note it ranks as the 4th country in the world for hits large number of elephants. These beautiful animals are threatened by human activities such as ivory trading to generate income. According to the Department of Wildlife Conservation, 279 elephants were killed by people in Sri Lanka in 2016.
About 13 years ago Dr. Karl arrived in Sri Lanka from the USA to shadow an elephant veterinarian and to work with domesticated elephants. During that time he met a family that was making handmade paper. Over the course of many nights of drinking warm beer and eating hot curry, he discussed the ways they could preserve both Sri Lanka's natural habitat and its national treasure, the elephant and turn the elephant into an asset instead of a threat of resources. They started using clean poo fiber in handmade paper and voila - Mr Ellie Pooh was born!
Elephants are very inefficient at digestion. Their vegan diet leaves a lot of undigested fiber which is excellent for making paper. What the elephant does in its stomach is what a paper mill does using lots of energy. The paper has a specific feel and texture like no other. The paper is actually 70% post-consumer, 30% fiber from elephant poo.
“People in Sri Lanka love it. They love what we're doing to help the elephants and also to help the economy through placing sustainable jobs in rural areas,” said Dr. Karl, Founder of Mr Ellie Pooh
They use a rudimentary process. Basically the post-consumer paper and the cleaned up, sanitized fiber from the elephant poo is mechanically pulped. It is then hand screened, pressed, and hung to dry. Their paper is labor intensive to make but no trees are being cut down to produce it. There are also no harsh chemicals used in this process. Milled paper uses a lot of energy and a lot of water, along with multiple chemicals that break down the pulp fiber. Their paper is more of a craft paper that is used for making gift cards or any type of design wished.
Image: Mr Ellie Pooh handmade and fairtrade notebooks
Mr Ellie Pooh also focuses on educating people about the plight of the Sri Lankan elephant and make them think out of the box and turn challenges into innovative and clean opportunities that benefit all parties involved.