Globe Publishing’s Execrable Paper

Globe Publishing’s Execrable Paper

Turns out the most sustainable paper can be made from what an elephant can’t use

Need a conversation starter the next time you’re out networking? Here’s one: “That business card I just handed you came out of an elephant.”

St. Paul–based print shop Globe Publishing Company offers business cards on paper that’s about 40 percent fiber from elephant dung. But don’t worry, it doesn’t stink, says Karl Wald, owner of Mr. Ellie Pooh, a New York–based company that imports the handcrafted paper from villagers in Sri Lanka.

Unlike ruminants such as cows, elephants don’t digest their food very well, Wald says, meaning there is still a lot of usable matter in it.

“The poopy part is washed off and what remains is raw cellulose, perfect for mixing with post-consumer paper to make new handmade paper,” Wald says. “It’s pretty simple—they put it all into a blender, screen it, press it, dry it out, and the paper is ready.”

Wald, who lived in Minneapolis for a few years, first began selling the dung paper at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market and the Minnesota State Fair almost eight years ago. He says the paper uses natural vegetative binding agents and dyes, no toxic chemicals, and is “as organic as it gets.”

Besides bringing jobs to Sri Lanka, it’s good for elephant conservation, he says: “In areas where there is a lot of human-elephant conflict because of elephants destroying farm crops, it helps people to see that the animals can have more economic value alive than dead.”

The eco-friendly paper isn’t cheap—about 40 percent more expensive than regular paper, says Globe President Bill Horst. Globe charges $90 for a pack of 200 business cards, and the paper’s contribution to the company’s, uh, bottom line is minimal. Nonetheless, it’s a unique product and attracts a certain kind of customer, Horst says.

Mr. Ellie Pooh products, which also include stationery sets and envelopes, are sold locally at the Minnesota Zoo gift shop and Ten Thousand Villages in St. Paul.