christmas gift idea: poo paper

My students love me so much that they gave me a box of paper made from elephant ca-ca!

Seriously, I love it…this morning my private students gave me a box of handmade note paper that is really made from, well, elephant poo poo. Go to The Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company. My students know I’m all about the environment and that I love elephants so they thought it was the perfect gift. The paper is 100% recycled and odorless (good thing!) A percentage of the profits from the sale of the poo poo paper (I love that phrase!) is contributed towards the conservation of elephants.

So check out the website. They have neat journals for people on your Christmas gift list who love to journal and also stationary sets for people who still write letters.

I love handmade paper. It has character. One of the things I’m taking to India is a handmade journal I bought at an art fair. Everything is handmade, even the leather cover. The artist told me that he buys hides from a beef processing plant (yuck), tools them into journal covers, and also makes the paper. My journal has a deep, rich burgundy cover that will become seasoned and burnished the more I handle it, like the way an old saddle gets or an old pair of boots. The paper inside is rough and scratchy with a nice earthy feel to it. I looked at many journals at the artist’s table, but when I picked up this particular one, a picture flew into my mind — I saw myself sitting outside a temple in India, journaling. I was meant to have this special journal. When I paid for it, I said to the artist, “I know this sounds weird, but…”, and I told him what I “saw.” He looked at me, smiled, and said, “it’s not weird in my world…” mine neither, bro.

and yes, that IS a picture of me being blessed by the temple elephant in Pondicherry, India, 2005. now THAT was the money shot!

i’m not the only one

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I try not to buy things made in China as a one-person protest of China’s occupation of Tibet. I’ve also written about Mindful Shopping (what a concept!) here and about how difficult it is to find things that are not made in China.

So it did my heart good today to read this story in the Chicago Tribune about another woman who tried to stop buying things made in China — for a different reason, but it is her protest just the same. I thought I was the only one who diligently read labels!

A family tries 12 months without ‘Made in China’

Strike China from the shopping list? Good luck. One experiment highlights how much U.S. consumers rely on those imports.

By Mary Ellen Podmolik | Special to the Tribune
August 19, 2007

Is it possible to live without Chinese-made goods?

That’s what Sara Bongiorni wanted to know, and after a year of a self-imposed embargo, she said she’s thankful her telephone didn’t break because she fears she might have broken down herself and bought a replacement made in China.

The Baton Rouge, La., mom and her family did make do, however, without a coffeepot, a blender, birthday candles and a lot of toys.

“We knew it would be difficult but until we did this, we really didn’t know how much we rely on imports for everyday things,” Bongiorni said….

The story gives tips on boycotting Chinese goods:

– Don’t expect friends and family to join in.

– Be prepared to go without convenience items, like an inexpensive coffeemaker.

– Get out your magnifying glass to look at tiny print on boxes and labels.

– When ordering from catalogs and Web sites, be prepared to make phone calls asking for the item’s country of origin.

– Dig deeper. Some toys from Danish firm Lego, for example, are made in China.

– Brush up on geography. You’ll have to decide whether Hong Kong and Macau are part of the boycott.

On the Students for a Free Tibet website it says that “in December 2002, a worldwide coalition of Tibetan and Chinese organizations and human rights and labor advocates launched an international Boycott Made in China campaign designed to level economic pressure on the Chinese government to end its occupation of Tibet. In a coordinated effort to urge people to stop buying goods made in China, activists throughout Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Europe and India, are educating consumers about what their money is supporting when they buy ‘Made in China.’

The Boycott Made in China campaign, representing a worldwide coalition of Tibetan and Chinese organizations and human rights and labour advocates, plans to put the brakes on China’s crimes through the power of the individual consumer. Campaign organizers believe that, more than any other force that could be bought to bear against China, the latent power of the free, informed and responsible consumer can pressure the world’s last surviving giant Communist dictatorship to allow the Tibetan nation and the Chinese people the freedom they have been long denied.”

Tucked away comfortably in our small towns or suburban subdivisions, ALL of us are a part of the bigger global picture. Our choices DO affect change, one person at a time.

Sorry if this sounds judgmental, but THINK, PEOPLE! Mindfulness is a life practice. Mindfulness is a choice. THINK about where your food comes from. THINK about where your clothes come from — are they made by companies in foreign sweatshops that employ child labor? The three biggest corporate villains for clothing are Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Dilliards. THINK about whether the cosmetics you buy are tested on animals. The biggest corporate villains for cosmetics insofar as animal testing and using known carcinogens are Maybelline, L’Oreal, Almay, and Revlon.

Think outside the box. Think mindfulness. Be mindfulness. Be aware.