The slogan of EEN is “Be Empowered with Available Resources!” The acronym is “BEAR.” That’s why I am working as the face of EEN, and I always say, “Let’s BEAR!”
My mom is always looking for interesting examples of “Let’s BEAR!” When she used to work for a rural entrepreneurship development project in Ethiopia, she worked with an Ethiopian group who was producing paper with banana bark and fiber. Since then, she has been interested in paper production.
The other day, when she visited a paper-product showroom in Tokyo, she found some unique paper products, such as greeting cards, memo pads, and notebooks. She was “beary” impressed by those products, and asked a shop clerk what they were made of. The shop clerk told my mom that they were all made of elephant dung. Ha? Elephant dung? Paper made from elephant dung? Can you believe that?
Let me tell you the story.
In Sri Lanka, elephants are regarded as sacred animals. For Sri Lankans, elephants are precious animals because the elephants carry heavy stuff for them. For a long period of time, they have lived with elephants as if they are family members.
One day, however, human beings began to trespass on the forest, cut down trees, and claim the land. That meant that food for elephants was disappearing due to the forest destruction by human beings. Since elephants could not find their food in the forest, they began to come down to residential areas and raid those places. As a result, people started killing elephants. Oh, poor elephants!
Elephants usually live in a group. However, due to the massacre by human beings, it became difficult for elephants to form a group. As a result, more and more elephants, especially young elephants, began to get lost. Concerned about this situation, a local NGO established an “orphanage” for elephants.
Elephants eat a lot of grass, and so their dung contains a lot of fiber. The Ceylon Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research (CIRIS) developed elephant dung paper in collaboration with a Japanese company. CIRIS has already proved that elephant dung paper is safe and environmentally friendly. The local NGO is providing environmental education for children at school. The Japanese company is providing Sri Lankans with technical assistance in terms of paper quality and product designs.
Look! These products are all stylish and environmentally friendly!
Look at this picture book! The book talks about how elephant dung paper is made. Of course, the book itself is made of elephant dung paper. Isn’t it “beary” nice?