I’m Writing to you on Elephant Poo…

That’s right – you can make paper, and a whole range of great paper products, from elephant dung! Here’s how…

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Image credit: http://new.poopoopaper.com

What is it about elephant dung that makes it possible to turn into paper?

An elephant’s diet consists entirely of fibre, they also have somewhat inefficient digestive systems which means about 50% of what they eat comes straight out the other end. This makes their dung very fibrous, it also means they have to eat loads to get the nutrition they need – 200-250kg of food per day! Ordinary paper is made from natural wood fibres which have been mechanically processed to form a pulp – the only difference with poo paper fibres is that the elephants have part-processed them already!

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Non-fibrous material is removed. Image credit: http://new.poopoopaper.com

 

How is the poo turned into paper?

First the dung is cleaned and all non-fibrous materials, such as pebbles, leaves and mud, are removed. The fibres that remain are then boiled for 4-6 hours – this destroys any bacteria that may still be remaining and also softens the fibres into a palpable sludge. Often the poo pulp is mixed together with other fibre pulps to create a stronger paper base. Once adequately mixed, and now resembling a stew like consistency, colour can be added. Now the fibre mixture is ready to be ‘screened’ – this is where the real transformation happens!

 

What is screening?

Screening is the process used to make the  actual sheets of paper using a framed screen. This is the same basic method used in China in AD105 when paper was first invented! The pulp mixture is poured into a large container filled with water in which a screen is already submerged. The sinking pulp fibres are caught by the submerged screen and a papermaker then manually spreads the fibres evenly across the screen’s surface. Odd particles are removed by hand and the screen is lifted out of the basin –  excess water drains away through the screen. The screen is put in the bright sun to dry and once dry – hey presto.. Poo Paper!!

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Pulp is laid out evenly on screens to dry. Image credit: http://new.poopoopaper.com

 

What poo products are available?

All sorts – poo paper can be made into notecards, journals, photo frames and albums, packaging for other products and much more … Dream Out Loud Films have a few more great poo paper ideas up our sleeve but you will have to wait to hear those! You can use any herbivorous animal’s poo to make paper – horses, cows, donkeys, buffalos… all recycled and super eco-friendly!

We’ll even be offering personalised poo paper notecards as rewards in our Kickstarter campaign.

In the aftermath of DO Elephants Go To Heaven?, the film, Louise Hogarth (Director, D.O.L. Films) has dreams of setting up her own elephant dung paper production facility… watch this space!!

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