Written by Koren Helbig from Fairlings.

Elephant poop. It’s not the kind of thing one often pauses to ponder. Yet for Import Ants Founder, Kim Good, elephant dung – and, more specifically, paper ingeniously made from the stuff – was the unlikely source of a major career change.

Rewind about a decade and the Sydney entrepreneur was becoming increasingly frustrated with Australia’s obsession with single-use plastics. During a visit to Sri Lanka, she spotted locals making paper from upcycled crap; elephants are vegetarian, so their dung is full of grass and other plant fibres that can be washed and made into paper, saving trees.

“This began a life changing event for me,” she recalls.

Soon after, Kim launched Import Ants and began working with impoverished Sri Lankan artisans to bring beautiful, natural and plastic-free products to Australia and New Zealand.


Kim’s first project was taking brushes handmade from natural vegetable fibres – a commonly used item in rural Sri Lankan villages – and tweaking them for use in Australian homes.

Working with women from a slum area on the outskirts of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, Kim created a range of coconut fibre brushes for dish washing and veggie cleaning, as well as a special brush made of sisal, a softer cactus fibre that won’t scratch non-stick pan surfaces.

More recently, she has added a coconut fibre kitchen scrubber to Import Ants’ Eco Max Brushes range; it’s designed as a natural alternative to non-biodegradable nylon scourers.

“Eco Max Brushes are completely natural, with no plastics or chemicals. And coconut fibre is naturally anti-bacterial, so it is such an awesome natural fibre for cleaning. Plus plant fibres are sustainable and biodegradable,” she told us.

“Not only are they a natural alternative to plastics in the home, they are also ethically handmade. They provide a sustainable industry in Sri Lanka, which means you are not only helping the environment but the women that make them as well.”


As an endorsed Fair Trader, Kim only works with companies and groups she has personally met, who all work in factories or workplaces she has personally inspected.

Her women artisans receive training and are paid above award wages for their work. As a result, many can now afford to keep their children in school, helping lift entire generations out of poverty.

“The best part has definitely been working and learning from the women. I love being with them when I am in Sri Lanka,” Kim says.

Import Ants also provides interest-free loans to artisans, who often use the money to move to homes beyond the slum, which is yearly adversely affected by flooding.

“Being a conscious consumer has always been important to me, so Fair Trade and eco-friendly was always going to be the basis for my business,” Kim affirms.


Kim’s entire Eco Max Brushes range is registered with The Vegan Society and made from organically grown materials, though they are not certified due to the nature of farming in Sri Lanka.

“The coconut fibre is sourced from small scale farmers in Sri Lanka, who generally do not use any pesticides or commercial fertilisers to grow coconut trees. These are not large scale commercial farms, usually just family farms. Due to the long period of war in Sri Lanka, pesticides and fertilisers have not been available to the general public as they can be made into bombs. This has meant that small farmers have not built up a reliance on them to grow their crops,” she explains.

“Sisal is a form of cactus, which is a very hardy high-yield plant, not attacked by many things and therefore considered to be a perfect developing country crop. Because of this, there are no certified organic growers of these fibres as they are generally grown organically anyway.”

For Kim, thoroughly researching the raw materials that go into her brushes has been just as important as ensuring all artisans are fairly paid and treated.

“It is so important to me to look at the whole lifecycle of a product, from who makes them and the conditions they are made in, to how they impact on our planet and where they end up at the end of their life,” she says.“We only have one amazing planet that we all need to love and care for.”

And to think we can play a part in supporting all that just by doing the dishes.


This interview first featured on the Fairlings website as part of their Brand Stories.

The idea of Fairlings was born from frustrations of not being able to find high quality and ethical day-to-day essential items in one centralised place. Instead of waiting for a solution to come along, husband and wife team Michael and Masa decided to solve this problem for all of us by starting an online store. Their goal is to make shopping for natural products easier. Minimalists at heart, they stock just one brand of each product, the best they could find based on rigorous research. Which is why they now sell our Eco Max Brush Range.