[Author: David Melvin, Community Engagement Intern]
In celebration of World Elephant Day on August 12th, we wanted to highlight the incredible efforts of Mr. Ellie Pooh, a member of the Fair Trade Federation. Born from a collaboration between an American biochemist, Dr. Karl Ward and a Sri Lankan paper maker, Thusitha Ranasinghe, the Mr. Ellie Pooh organization has boosted the Sri Lankan economy by turning elephant dung into handmade paper products.
In Sri Lanka, there has been a history of friction between farmers and elephants. Many farmers see elephants as a threat to their crops and have killed them because elephants run across their fields damaging plants and livestock. Thanks, in part, to the creation of Mr. Ellie Pooh, elephants and farmers have been on better terms, as farmers are starting to see the value of paper made from the elephant dung to the local economy.
Thus, farmers moved away from seeing elephants as a threat to their livelihood and more as complimentary contributors to what they’re trying to accomplish as a community. The papermaking process has allowed for more Sri Lankans to earn income that is easily accessible in relation to where they live while sparking creativity through the papermaking process.
“Mr. Ellie Pooh’s paper products are 100 percent recycled. They are made up of 75 percent elephant dung and 25 percent post-consumer paper,” Ward explained in an interview with Green America. Shoppers have a variety of paper options from notebooks and journals to stationary and greeting cards. Other fair trade items created by Mr. Ellie Pooh include soapstone sculptures, elephant pulp art and even T-shirts!
This year marks ten years since the organization began, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Stop by a Global Gifts near you to see all of the unique Mr. Ellie Pooh products!
[Photo credit: https://mrelliepooh.com/]