From Canada, With Love

July 4, 2012 at 10:56 pm


I’m currently in Australia for a four-city speaking tour arranged by the Institute of Public Affairs – and I’ve brought along a few gifts.

At each of the public talks – in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth – two lucky audience members will take home the most absurd “green” product I’ve ever encountered – note paper made from moose dung.

Yes, the world is a strange place and we humans are capable of incredible intellectual contortions. The folks who manufacture this souvenir item claim to tramp around the bush collecting excrement discharged from these antlered princes of the North American wilderness.

A male moose can weigh up to 700 kilograms (1,500 pounds) and, according to Canadian Geographic, “stands taller at the shoulder than the largest saddle horse.” One hopes, therefore, that prior to taking the job prospective dung collectors inquire as to whether they’re covered by the injured Worker’s Compensation program.

After being harvested, the dung is shipped all the way to Thailand where it is mixed with “pine needles and non-tree waste fibers such as corn husk and hay” and then shipped back to Canada.

Goodness only knows what the carbon footprint of that looks like, perhaps they purchase offsets, but never mind. There is, apparently, no shortage of silly persons such as myself looking for unusual Canadian-themed memorabilia.

According to the packaging, this product is “incredibly fun” as well as being an “outrageously playful example of creative recycling.”

It’s not clear how collecting moose dung contributes, in any manner, to saving the planet. Nevertheless these folks are adamant – and I quote – that “brown is the new green.”

Incidentally I grew up eating moose meat. In my working class family whether or not my father and his buddies bagged a moose during hunting season was far from an academic question. A freezer full of hundreds of pounds of dark, lean meat (it does not, in fact, taste like chicken) was an awesome way to stretch the family food dollar.

I have a childhood photograph of myself well under the age of seven wearing pajamas beneath my winter coat and posing beside a bloody, strung-up carcass that towers luridly above me. One of my hands is wrapped firmly around a prong of an antler.

Whichever relative snapped that photo would doubtless be surprised to learn that while it’s against the law to sell moose meat in Canada, moose dung is quite another matter :-)

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A few seats are still available at my Australian events. Full details here.

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