Someone once said that you haven’t really experienced a place till you get your hands dirty. Well, I took that pretty literally. Very very close to the Snowdonia region of Wales, up a winding mountain road and behind a slate mine, is a tiny little home factory that makes Sheep Poo Paper. If using your hands to mix pressure cooked, washed, dried and beaten to pulp sheep dung is not getting your hands dirty, I wonder what is.
Started about 5 years ago by 2 friends Lez and Lawrence, Sheep Poo Paper is a well thought out eco-business, that turns waste into something very useful – paper. Every sheep poos something like 1 kg of poo per day and with 4 sheep to every person in Wales, that’s 12 million sheep and that makes it 12 million kgs of poo per day. That’s 12000 tonnes of sheep poo. You need 5 tons of poo to make 1 ton of paper. Do the math! If everyone had a little Sheep Poo Paper company in their farm, everything that comes out Wales could be recycled documentation. Phenomenal!
Sheep Poo paper is not the first ones to make paper out of poo. There is Roo poo in Australia, that makes paper out of Kangaroo Poo. There is elephant poo paper in Thailand. Now, what do you think we could do with the amoung of Cow dung in India? We could even call it Bull shit paper.
Anyway, the paper making process is pretty simple. You can even do it in your kitchen. Here are the seven sacred steps to make paper out of poo –
1. Pressure cook the poo. It is important to make sure your cooker works well. With dal or rice hitting the roof, its ok. Not with shit.
2. Put them in pillow cases and wash them. You may just want to throw that pillow case away, or offer it to nasty guests.
3. Squeeze them dry. By now, you would have gotten used to the fact that you are handling shit. So, you’ll be comfortable removing it from the pillowcase.(Check out some of the dried stuff stored for later)
4. Beat it up in a mixie along with other paper you want to recycle (back paper apparently works best). So, imagine this setting – ICICI bank has a backyard with cows and all the dung is mixed with those credit card forms that they make us fill to produce recycled paper, that is then redirected to make more forms. It captures what I think of bank documentation.
5. Make a tray with a wooden frame and a muslin cloth base. To begin, don’t go for chart paaper size. Try with A 4 or less. Place the tray in a flat tub of water.
6. Pour out the pressure cooked, washed, dried, blended poo into the tray till it forms a thin layer. Get your hands dirty and even it out till you feel the entire layer is smooth.
7. Now, pull out the tray from the water really slowly till all the water drains away. What you have is a wet paper sheet. Leave it to dry with the tray and you would have landed up making your very first sheet of poo paper. If it didn’t work out, you have just made your own manure for your plants.
And since we don’t have that many sheep in India, I have assumed the above process with Cow dung. If any animal eats too much green grass, the colour of the paper doesn’t turn out too well.So, its preferable its a hay eating cow. Likewise for meat eating animals. Paper is best made out of herbivorous animals. That got someone thinking about using ‘Vegetarian’s’ poo. Never mind.
Some more curious facts about Sheep Poo Paper, that you may want to know –
a) Gordon Ramsey had two sheep and he invited Sheep Poo Paper guys to make paper from the poo. He used the paper to make menu cards for his restaurant. Food and poo paper on the table, not something you would have ever imagined.
b) Sheep Poo Paper may get into some brand extensions with Horse poo paper and if the Queen agrees, it may even be Royal Horse Poo Paper.
c) The hottest selling product of Sheep Poo Paper is the Air-Freshners that they make. Can it get more ironic? Air-Freshners made out of Poo. Not kidding.
Now from the poo to where it comes from, the sheep. Being the last day in Wales, before I head back to busy London, it was nice to breathe the countryside air and run around with the sheep. Here is a really short video of a new event they are planning to invent in Wales. It may not be as popular as the Pampalona ‘Running of the Bulls’, but it has a countryside charm to it. Check out ‘Running of the Sheep’ here…
Before I sign out of Wales, here is a request to all my readers to answer this question – “If someone gives you shit, what would you do with it?’ The most innovative answer gets a ”Black sheep’ Poo paper postcard from me.