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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Preserving elephants--and snow leopards--a prime goal of NY NOW exhibitors

Mr. Ellie Pooh

Alyssa Channet shows Mr. Ellie Pooh product at Javits Center

Elephants were a big focus of NY NOW’s Handmade Global Design exhibition area, though snow leopard-related product was also in evidence at the Javits Center.

According to Lindsey Thomas, principal wholesale rep of The Elephant Pants supplier of loose-fitting and lightweight pants styles and other elephant-related merchandise, elephants of all species will be extinct by 2025 if nothing is done to protect them. That’s just eight years from now, when the remaining 500,000 elephants left on this planet will be gone forever.

“We want them to be here for our children!” said Thomas, whose company’s motto is “Save elephants, feel good” and mission statement notes how its goal since its 2014 inception is to help save elephants and feel good about it “one leg at a time.”

Indeed, The Elephant Pants claims to have since donated $145,615 to charitable organizations dedicated to saving elephants, and has partnered with organizations dedicated to making the world a better place for elephants, most recently including pioneering African conservation group Tusk.

Near The Elephant Pants exhibition booth was Brooklyn-based Mr. Ellie Pooh’s, its unique merchandise, as the company name suggests, centering on paper product handmade in Sri Lanka and made up of 30 percent fiber from elephant dung and 70 percent recycled paper.

Elephants are vegetarian, and adults produce 500 pounds of dung each day that is basically raw cellulose; when thoroughly cleaned and processed, it is converted into a beautiful, acid-free and linen-like textured paper, which is then made into art projects, notebooks, cards and other exotic gifts.

Sri Lanka is home to about a tenth of the world’s 40,000 Asian elephants in the wild, but they’re being killed off steadily due to their interference with agriculture and are running out of needed living space. Mr. Ellie Pooh trains villagers to make its paper and hires artisans to create its products--and educates them to live among elephants where animal and man often conflict, thereby changing elephants from a liability to an economic asset.

Though not elephant-related in its wares, elephant preservation was not lost on Harkiss Designs, which employs skilled women artisans in East Africa and helps orphans and vulnerable children find families. A poster on the wall of its exhibitor’s booth made a point of distinguishing its handcarved bowls and jewelry as being made from horns and not ivory, specifically, the huge horns of sustainable Ankole beef cattle.

Meanwhile, Snow Leopard Trust in Seattle, supplier of sustainable and hand-crafted home decor items made by women in Asian snow leopard habitats, came to NY NOW to sell product and promote its vision of “a world where snow leopards, humans, and mountain ecosytems thrive.”



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