The feel of warm sand between your feet, a smile from a stranger, a happy bumble bee on your balcony – it’s often the little things that make our day. That’s why we love this category: A collection of great, easy ideas that may look small but could help to make the world a nicer place.
Recycling enthusiasts from around the world prove that you can do much more with the feces of herbivores than to fertilize the field: They turn elephant, cow and sheep dung into lovely paper.
Which naturally raises a question: How does it smell?
“Neutral”, assures Michael Flancman. The Canadian lives for around 10 years in Thailand where he founded the company “Alternative Pulp & Paper“. Since 2005 he produces “Poopoopaper”. “Most of our first time customers typically pick up our products immediately and smell them. After their initial sniff they wonder why the paper doesn’t smell bad. The explanation is simple: Feces of animals that eat plants smell anyway much less than the dung of carnivores. And the fibres generated from the dung have been processed (cleaned and boiled) into a pulpy cellulose material.”
The fact that the poo-poo of some animal species is suitable for paper production, is due to their feeding behaviour and metabolism. Elephants, horses, kangaroos, moose, reindeer and other four-legged vegetarians consume daily large amounts fibrous plant material such as grass, herbs and leaves. Since their digestive system is relatively inefficient a large part of the fibres is excreted undigested.
How much “raw material” an animal provides in this way depends of course mainly on its size. An elephant that eats around 200 kilograms of plants per day produces around 50 kilograms of manure – enough to make about 115 sheets of paper.
“We wash and boil the dung into a pulp. Then we reinforce it with about 15 percent of other plant fibres from the region, e.g. the non-edible parts of banana trees. If we colour the paper we use natural food colours. Then the paper is skimmed off and processed further”, explains Flancman. His company collects most of the animal dung from elephant conservation parks and farms in the surrounding countryside.
Flancman is not alone with his business idea. The American company ” Dung and Dunger ” processes bison dung, “Creative Papers” in Tasmania works with kangaroo shit. In Sweden some small manufacturers turn moose dropping into paper. “Sheep Poo Paper” in Wales brings sheep dung from the pastures in the paper mill. In England “The Exotic Paper Company” sells reindeer and rhino – paper. In addition to writing paper, greeting cards and photo albums some companies offer already paper that can be used in a normal printer.
Hopefully the concept finds several more imitators. Making paper from animal dung is original and environmentally sound business idea that could prevent some trees from being cut down for the paper industry and at the same time help zoos, farms and equestrian facilities to get rid of large amounts of animal manure.
Guerrilla Gardening is gardening against all odds. It is illegal (in most cases the police turns a blind eye to it though) and often it is not easy. But the mission is lovely and worth some hassle: To make our cities greener and better places to be.
The motives of people that go out at night to change weary wastelands, traffic islands and parking lanes into lovely gardens can vary from environmental concern to artistic merits and political protest. Their „weapons“ are always the same: Spade and shovel, offshoots, seeds and sometimes also flower powered seed bombs.
„Guerrilla Gardening“ started in New York in the Seventies when Liz Christy and some friends threw seed bombs onto empty lots. Around 30 years later Richard Reynolds revived the concept in London, when he found his district too grey and too ugly. And Reynolds wanted far more than improving his own neighbourhood. The advertising expert went online with guerrillagardening.org
On his website he spreads the message „Lets fight the filth with forks and flowers“ and gives some advice – or as he puts it: „some lessons from war“ – for new flower power pirates. Reynolds succeeded. By now the online community has more than 40,000 members from around 40 countries.
Guerrilla Gardening can be a sweet and powerful protest and a quick and practical way to improve a city. But it has to be done right. That means mainly to plant only native flowers, bushes and trees and taking care for them in an environmental friendly way. Read More: How to make a seed bomb