How Elephant Poop Becomes Fancy Paper in Sri Lanka by ZINARA RATHNAYAKE from Atlas Obscura

GROWN-UP ELEPHANTS CAN EAT MORE than 300 pounds of food—mostly grass, twigs, foliage, and tree bark—in a single day. In the same period, they may defecate 16 to 18 times, producing over 200 pounds of dung. In Randeniya, a small village in the lower wetlands of Sri Lanka, elephant poop is a renewable resource. The sun-dried, deep-brown dung piles up like haystacks in a painting by Claude Monet.

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Visitors could be forgiven for thinking that the poop is useless. But at Eco Maximus, a manufacturer in Randeniya, it takes on a second life. More than 20 years ago, a man named Thusita Ranasinghe saw some dung and had an idea. “He thought he could make paper from it,” says the company’s brand designer, Susantha Karunarathne, with a smile. At his office inside the company factory, Karunarathne wears a green t-shirt which says #elephantdungpaper and shows off some of his recent journal designs.

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On a table nearby, several women carefully design covers for multi-sized notebooks. On another, the finished product is packed and ready to be shipped. Today, Maximus creates a range of stationery and souvenirs, which are sold in the local market and in 30 other countries around the globe.

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Eco Maximus was an early producer of elephant dung paper and the first in Sri Lanka, and refining the manufacturing process involved a lot of trial and error. Elephant dung is brought in by nearby rescue centres, Karunarathne says during a tour of the factory. Fresh elephant dung, semi-solid and green in colour, smell. But after it dries under the hot tropical sun, the smell disappears. Collectors gather the deep-brown, fibre-rich piles in a piping-hot steam boiler. “We boil for one hour, to ensure that the dung is germ-free,” says Vibhatha Wijeratne, the factory manager, wearing a pair of yellow gloves as he shows me a pile of boiled dung.
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In one corner of the factory, bundles of paper with crumpled edges are stacked upon each other. There are different colours—earthy tones, blues, tropical greens, and deep reds. Thousands of years ago, much of the writing in Sri Lanka was inscribed on stones. Later, the islanders wrote on leaves, such as the fronds of the palmyra palm, locally known as the tal. “Palmyrah leaves were boiled and sun-dried for writing, which was called pus kola (old leaves),” says bright-eyed Randika Jayasinghe, who teaches biosystems technology at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

More: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/elephant-dung-specialty-paper-sri-lanka?utm_source=Atlas+Obscura+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=a5324e7441-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_11_12_LocationUnknown&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f36db9c480-a5324e7441-70925981&mc_cid=a5324e7441&mc_eid=4ff4cb9644

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ہم سب

ہم سب مل کر چلیں گے

A Fine Balance ©

A blog about work, life and the pursuit of balance.

Shapes of Space

The shape of space to come

Sufi Events

"We carry inside us the wonders we seek outside us." - Rumi

RoamingArtist's Blog

Artandtravel.com weblog

Pakistan Travel & Culture

Pakistan Travel & Tourism, culture, history and news articles.

History and Chronicles

INDIAN HISTORY

All About Asia

The Asian Diaries

Drawn&made

Hello, this is the creative blog of Mark & Heather, we're freelance designers.

ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

ASHA: Blast From The Past

The Blog of Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology [ASHA]

hmmlorientalia

Some remarks—often with photos!—about manuscripts and the languages, literature, scholarship, and history of Christian culture in the Middle East.

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