Saturday, 9 April 2011

Wombats to the rescue!

In nature everything is recycled. Rotten leaves are a feast to wood lice and earthworms. Animal dung is food for hungry beetles, returning nutrients to the soil for new plants to grow.

We are the only species that collects and disposes of waste rather than turning it into a resource. As I am writing my new book, I am very aware of the amount of paper I use everyday and the number of trees cut down to turn the precious fibres into paper. Did you know that about a third of all trees chopped down are used to make paper? Could there be a different way?

Creative Papers, in Tasmania, has come up with an imaginative way of using the waste of local animals to make paper. They collect the droppings of wombats that live in the Cradle Mountain wildlife park. Wombats only eat plants and their droppings contain a lot of fibres, the raw material for papermaking. Every day, the droppings are collected by the park's keeper and sent to the factory. The waste is then boiled for many hours to extract the fibres and these are combined with cotton fibres from recycled fabric to produce paper. Today, entrepreneurs around the world are turning droppings from elephants, sheep, pandas and even reindeer into luxurious handmade paper. However, this is all being done at a very small scale, mainly for the tourist industry. Hopefully, as more and more companies think creatively about locally available resources, more and more trees will be saved. Talking about wombat poo paper is a fun, engaging way to make children think creatively about the concept of waste as a resource!

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