Elephant Dung – and other alternatives sources for paper

By Winn Apple   |   Published June, 2012

The word paper has long been synonymous with earths’ stately trees and in present day the environmental efforts to protect these trees, their forests and the delicate habitat thriving within. But what about the alternative fiber sources being used…like yes, elephant dung. I dare say this unusual source rarely plops into your thoughts.

Interestingly, before the 1920’s, trees were not slotted to become our prime source for paper. Infact, in 1916, the U.S. Government predicted that by the 1940s all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees need to be cut down. Government studies report that 1 acre of hemp equals 4.1 acres of trees. Plans were in the works to implement such programs. (U.S. Department of Agriculture Archives.) Rumor has it that these plans were thwarted by pockets that planned to remain deep.

Hemp does have an illustrious history, one in which we shall save for another day – another blog.

Bringing our attention back to present day, we look to the horizon and see contemporary minds thinking outside the wooden box – generating new possible alternatives to the glorious tree.

One such crafty fellow, an Israeli entrepreneur by the name of Aharon, has concocted a tantalizing paper recipe utilizing poo as its main ingredient; though the term dung rings nicer.  As acting CEO for Applied Clean Tech (ACT), a sewage recycling company, Aharons’ team utilizes waste before the biological processes of the waste-water treatment plant destroy it.

Don’t count hemp out yet, despite the fact that its sterling reputation was tarnished nearly a century ago. EcoSource, a Canadian based company produces tree free, hemp papers. Our founding fathers, who were quite adamant about the value of this fiber, would be delighted to know the leafy dream still kicks.

There are many companies, like Eco-source and ACT that utilize everything including banana leaf , flax, unused and second-hand clothing to produce interesting specialty papers – ones better suited for stationary and journal pages.  They are also great for producing packaging.

When it comes to printing in volume and running sheets through the press, particular paper qualities need be addressed in the production. The needs are addressed by companies familiar with volume printing. Fibers need to be strong.

Neeha Paper offers papers made from bamboo, cotton and tortilla which all are designed for big runs.

How about a standard office paper for your laser printer made from the delightful sugar cane of Columbia? Propal Paper Mill crafts just such a paper under the name TreeFrog and distributes it through treezeropaper.com. They are one of the only papers mills producing alternative source paper for everyday use.

It would seem that there are certainly optional alternatives to trees in the making of paper products, though not all options are suitable to fill each need. Sturdy fibers, smooth texture, ink adhesion are just a few qualities considered when crafting paper to make it through the presses and produce a fabulous looking finished product.

Though we have yet to fulfill an order printed on sheets of Elephant dung, Bacchus Press offers a wide selection of quality forest friendly papers, including synthetic, bamboo and 100% post-consumer waste – let us help you find the perfect paper…even if it’s dung!

Bacchus Press – keeping it Certified Green.

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About the Author

In addition to crafting content and blogs, Winn Apple writes short stories and novellas for middle-grade readers. You can find her short stories along with a portfolio on her site, MysticJunkyard.com or on her soon to release website, snugbuggle.com – the best darn place to find short stories for kids.


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