It all started with a life-changing trip to Sri Lanka and a passion to work with elephants. After traveling the island, I volunteered at Millennium Elephant Foundation (MEF), where they rent privately owned elephants and allow them to have a better quality of life. Some of these elephants previously worked in the logging or tourism industry and some are owned by temples. Although my time was not long I was inspired by what I saw and the level of passion and care the staff and family showed to these elephants. Every day was an adventure! I was assigned to help with Kandula, a 57 years old elephant who belongs to a temple in Badulla. When he isn’t working at the temple he gets to spend his time at Millennium with volunteers. My daily routine included taking Kandula down to the river for his bath, preparing and feeding him his vitamin balls, cleaning out his day and night bed, as well as helping the foundation make improvements. When my time was over I was very sad to leave but I knew that I would somehow return.
Six months later my wish came true and I returned to MEF as a Volunteer Coordinator. In the short time that I was gone there had already been huge signs of improvements – including the Elephant Walk Experience and the Free Roaming Area being built. Although there was lots of progress I could see how it is difficult to accomplish things in Sri Lanka, especially for a non-profit that relies solely on tourism and volunteers for their income. I knew that I wanted to somehow make a difference, even when I came back to Canada.
From Poo to Paper:
Part of the volunteer experience is to visit Eco Maximus, which is the paper factory next door. Every day volunteers take elephant dung by wheelbarrow to this facility where it is used to make paper and paper products. On one of my many trips, I started to ask more questions and learned that there was nobody selling their products in Canada. Thus, Aliya Dung Paper was born!
Eco Maximus employs approximately 200 locals in their factory. At this facility, they boil the dung to sanitize it and then use the undigested plant fibers to mix with recycled paper to make pulp. From there the paper process continues normally. The process is acid and chlorine-free, and the result is 100% recycled and environmentally friendly paper. It is then used to create journals, notepads, calendars, and much more. So you not only get a unique and beautiful product that is good for the environment but you are also helping provide jobs for many Sri Lankans.
At Aliya Dung Paper our goal is to provide a quality alternative to recycled paper while giving back. A portion of all sales will be donated back to MEF so that they can continue to help the elephants and make improvements. By supporting Aliya Dung Paper you will be helping the environment by using 100% recycled paper and paper products. You will also be helping the elephants live a better life – which ties back into the production at Eco Maximus – thus sustaining and creating jobs for the people that live there. You are also helping bring awareness to some of the struggles of the beautiful species of Asian Elephant. This is how we come full circle.