It definitely doesn’t get more bizarre than this: seeing heaps of sheep poo converted into thick sheets of recycled paper. And that’s not just it. We are getting down and dirty and trying our hands at making sheep poo paper ourselves.
It’s Day 4 of the the Welsh Showdown (a challenge VisitBritain had set me up with) and our group of bloggers are gathered in the outskirts of the Snowdonia National Park in Northern Wales. The innovative people of Creative Paper Wales are about to show us an environmentally-friendly way of producing paper and other products from the excrement of their national animal – the sheep.
How Sheep Poo Paper Came About
The ingenious owner of Creative Paper Wales, Lez Paylor, shares with us how the idea was borned, “I’ve always been interested in environmental issues and recycling since I was a student. While traveling through Thailand, I got the idea from the local recycled paper made from elephant dung. But I found that the Thais have missed out the fun and humour of it, so I’ve injected some life into our own products.” Lez doesn’t just produces paper but also quirky bookmarks, greeting cards (including ‘bullshit’ Valentines cards) and the most popular of all, sheep poo air freshener.
And why sheep poo? Lez says that sheep is symbolic of Wales, a conclusion that he came up with after asking his fellow Welsh friends what their national animal was. Sheeps are indeed ubiquitous in Wales, with the ratio of people to sheep at a staggering 1 to 4. Lamb meat is premium in Wales, so is their poo.
Each winter, Lez collects heaps of sheep poo from his neighbor’s farms – usually enough to last for 4 to 5 months. As an environmental-conscious company, Creative Paper Wales uses only the most basic equipment, from recycled water to hand-made frames and pressure cooker.
Steps to Making Sheep Poo Paper
We soon try our hands at making our own sheep poo paper. First, sheep poo is sterilised in a mill. Then it’s mixed with water and boiled in a pressure cooker.We dip our hands into this mixture, placing them onto a rectangular frame covered by a cloth that acts as a sift and then slowly drain out the water. You can see Anthony the Travel Tart in the picture on the left getting his hands dirty in sheep poo water.
The process is not as easy as it sounds as you need to make sure the mixture is scattered evenly on the surface of the sift. You also need to raise the heavy frame steadily from the water, ensuring there are no uneven chunks of poo or leftover straws here and there.
Finally, the frames are hung to dry. In winter, the weather is too wet to dry the paper, so paper-making is only done in summer. Lez tells us that when business is good, they can make up to 50 sheets of paper per day. For every 5 tonnes of dung, you get 1 ton of paper.
A Canoe Made Out of Paper
Tucked at the end of Lez’s workshop, covered by a white cloth, is Creative Paper Wales’ proudest invention: a canoe made out of sheep poo paper. As their products are gaining popularity rapidly, they’ve been asked constantly by their retail partners to come up with new creations. The result is a larger-than-life canoe carved from a World War II foldboat frame and covered with 3 layers of paper and a thin coat of wax on top. The canoe has survived the cold waters of Northern Wales and has proven its strength and quality.
Win a Sheep Poo Paper Greeting Card!
For this challenge, the reader with the most creative comment below will win a greeting card made of sheep poo. I will be writing a short greeting to the reader and posting it to wherever you are. So start writing and we’ll make sure we pick the funkiest response!
Disclaimer: My trip was sponsored by VisitBritain but all opinions are my own.
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