Sunday, August 7, 2011

Elephant poo sold here!

I was unable to hit the road anytime over the week and thus, have no new tales to publish today. Unfortunately, I am also out of stock of older stories to regurgitate in this space. So, here’s one straight from my current habitat; one, that reminds me of home, the cultural capital of god’s own country.

A few months back I came upon the above sticker outside the RPI bookstore. Interested, a wee bit, I captured the poo sticker on my camera phone, never realizing one bit what it stood for. It was a time when humor-tinged notices and posters were coming up at different places on the campus. Nevertheless, I never once thought why a bookstore would put up with s**t.

I guess, I just assumed it was part of a joke, one that I just did not get. How wrong was I?

The Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company has been converting dung into a wide variety of paper goods and stationery since 2002. Thanks to entrepreneur Michael Flancman, an elephant in the room has finally been dealt with. Sustainable development, you say; well, this is it.

According to Flancman, “basically, our sustainable cycle works like this: as with all creatures on our planet, elephants need a clean environment and a good diet. With these needs met, an elephant produces a lot of dung, which we collect and use to make our products.”

To maintain a good working environment for the tuskers, a portion of all the sales of the Elephant Poo Poo Paper products goes to elephant welfare and conservation programs. Considering that humans are the elephant’s primary predator due to unnecessary and illegal practices of poaching and ivory trade, an effort of this sort by the company probably represents cultural capitalism at its finest. I wonder what Slavoj Zizek has to say about this.

Yet, there is one major impediment to commercial success. Why would people want to strew their desks with dung? The No. 1 question the company gets about their products is whether they smell. It seems customers are unable to resist sneaking a quick sniff at the stationery, you know, just in case. Flancman explains that, “even though it’s made of poo, our paper has no smell whatsoever. The boiling of the fibers acts as an antiseptic treatment and takes care of that. We may sell poo for a living but it doesn’t smell like it.”

That’s primarily because the company first lets the waste dry completely before rinsing it. What’s left is the fibrous refuse from the plant life elephants consume, which is a remarkable source material for paper. The whole process can be found here.

Personally, I have taken a liking towards the product. Maybe it’s because the tuskers remind me of home. Now, if only people  progress from sniffing at the paper to actually writing on them, the temples in Thrissur surely stand to make a lot of money.


  1. hehe... good prospects of activity at our cultural capital indeed :)

  2. that is some innovation indeed!

  3. Thrissur could have a new geographical nickname too:)

    Very interesting. How does the paper look tho'? Super fine or like handmade paper?

  4. D Nambiar... thanks for visiting. The paper is not fine but should work well for daily use writing rough notes or reminders; not a printing paper for sure.