Written by Liv Carisch, Age 8
Did you know, that paper can be made from elephant poo? I wouldn’t have believed it either. When we were in Chiang Mai, Thailand we went to the Elephant PooPoo Paper factory. Unfortunately, Ali fell asleep and Emily didn’t want to actually touch the poo. That may have been partially my fault. At the beginning of the tour there were different kinds of animal poo labeled “Touch Me!” or “Smell Me!” and I made the comment “Sorry, but I’m not Alice in Wonderland, and we all know what happened to her.” Although, I wound up touching it anyway.
When we first arrived, a woman sitting behind a desk in the gift shop told us to “Follow the poo poo to find out how we make the paper.” We followed piles of elephant poop, and we got to the “Alice in Wonderland” exhibit. It’s a little weird following poop around. The next exhibit was about six barrels filled with poo soup. They mix the poo with water and cook it. You could see the heat coming off of it. Kind of gross.
The poo boils for a while, making it softer and easier to dye. After a few hours of the poo simmering, a woman will take the poo, cool it off and dye it a color. Then she rolls it into a big, fat ball and puts it in a basket with other pieces of poo dyed the same color. It keeps getting less and less gross, doesn’t it?
Next there was a long water trough with lots of strainers lined up. Another woman puts a ball of poo on a flat strainer that’s shallow and rectangular. The woman spreads the poo over the strainer until it’s even. This allows the woman to make it into a paper-shape. She then puts the strainer laden with pretty colored poo out in the sun to dry. Two hours later, voila! Poo-paper!
Seeing the Poo Poo Paper factory was definitely a learning experience. One of the good things about paper made from elephant poo (other than getting to kind of freak people out when they find out they’re writing on something that was once a piece of poop) is that it’s great for the environment. We don’t have to chop down trees for paper and it’s a resource that will never run out as long as we have elephants. But if elephants go extinct then all the trees will continue to be cut down, and there won’t be any more! Please help the elephants and the trees!
So, here’s to Poo Poo Paper! One more reason I love elephants.