elephant dung paper

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Update: photos!

Excuse the delay, I’ve returned in a daze from Malawi and my jet-lagged brain is having trouble re-sizing photos for everyday trash.

So trust me when I say I have pictures of elephants and of their dung and of that dung being processed and of the beautiful handmade paper that results from the process.

The elephants I saw at a well-stocked game park called Liwonde. The paper-making from their dung I saw in the city of Blantyre, a pleasant little town with purple flowering trees and even a side-walk or two (in sharp contrast to the dirt roads throughout the rest of the country).

PAMET is an NGO in Blantyre set up by a British woman and now Malawian-run that collects discarded bits of paper and cardboard and shreds it, along with plan fibers, elephant dung, burlap sacks and baobab bark to make thick and delicate sheets of paper from one or all of those ingredients. They also have an educational program whereby they teach others to make paper or briquettes to heat their homes by packing it all into disks. I took a photo of an old school exercise book on the floor of the old paper stock room waiting to be made into pulp for new stationary. It’s a wonderful cycle if you think about it: making new paper out of an old exercise book in order to sell and then be able to afford school fees and a new exercise book.

I made a solo roadtrip to the rural north of the country and along the way talked to many, many Malawians, all of whom mentioned bad economy and expensive school fees as factors holding them and their country as a whole back in this world.

Oh, and no I didn’t see Madonna. In fact, Madonna didn’t come up once in conversation while I was there except in the form of emails from home.

Photos coming soon. And by the way, it’s nice to blog again. I missed you all!

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4 Responses to “elephant dung paper”

  1. kimberly Says:

    Welcome back!

    I’d heard of this dung-into-paper thing before, but somehow imagined a more upscale or mechanized operation. I love that it is in fact decidedly lowtech yet seems quite efficient.

  2. Zomba, Malawi « everydaytrash Says:

    [...] then, please enjoy these vintage Malawian trash posts on elephant dung stationary and ruminations on zero [...]

  3. Siddharth Iyer Says:

    I am a student in Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal India. While on a fieldtrip to northern West Bengal, we visited the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary where they too had experimented with the elephant-dung paper. Unfortunately, government bureucracy has stopped the process to be converted into reality for now. We have an assignment in the course Project Management, where we need to develop our own feasible project… I am thinking of taking up elephant dung paper… What say?

  4. everydaytrash Says:

    I think that’s a great idea! Here’s contact info for the Malawian NGO described above:

    Paper Making Education Trust (PAMET)

    P.O. Box 1015, Blantyre
    Blantyre, Malawi

    Email: pamet@sdnp.org.mw

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