Q. Dear Twig: I bet you didn't know this. I bet you didn't know that you can turn manure into paper.
A.: I didn't know that. Now I do. Thank you. I probably won't try to do it just yet. My soup kettle's still in the dishwasher.
The secret, as it turns out, are cellulose ("SELL-yoo-lohs") fibers. Cellulose fibers form much of the cell wall of plant cells. And cellulose fibers get used to make paper. The cellulose fibers for making most paper come from wood from trees, from plants such as cotton, from recycled paper and so on.
But manure has cellulose fibers in it, too. And some people now make paper out of it. Nice, pretty, no-stink paper that uses what mostly would go to waste. They use sheep manure, bison manure, elephant manure and more.
See for yourself! Be one of the first five readers to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and get a free bison-manure-paper notecard/envelope set! And be one of the first 25 to e-mail and get a free color print of yours truly — on lovely earth-tone elephant-dung paper!
P.S. It's easier to get cellulose from manure than from wood. Animal digestion has freed it up!
Notes: "A sizeable fraction of the plant material that goes in one end of a herbivore [a plant-eating animal] comes out the other with cellulose fibers little worse for wear," explains Katherine Merow in "Earthy Sentiments," a recent story about manure paper in Orion magazine (http://www.orionmagazine.org). Manure-paper sources include Dung and Dunger (bison), http://www.dunganddunger.net/; RainbowGifts USA (elephant), http://www.rainbowgifts-usa.com/elephant_dung_paper.htm; Creative Paper Tasmania (kangaroo), http://www.creativepapertas.com.au/; and Creative Paper Wales (sheep), http://www.creativepaperwales.co.uk/.
"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," published by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences - specifically, by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College - is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. It's written at a 4th-grade reading level. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, email@example.com, (330) 263-3776. Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.