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Eloisa Cartonera – Using Cardboard to Create Books and to Help People


eloisa-cartonera-logo1In the midst of the Argentine economic crisis, those desperate for money began collecting paper and cardboard from municipal waste to sell for recycling. These people are became known as “cartoneros”.

From this crisis, creativity was born.  In 2003,  Eloisa Cartonera was established, breathing new life into the cartoneros community. Eloisa Cartonera publishes the works of  new and classic Latin American writers  such Cesar Aira and  Alejandro Lopez and purchases cardboard used in the books  from the cartoneros.   The cartoneros  also paint and decorate the books.

The authors help by giving up their copyrights.  These donations have made it possible for Eloisa Cartonera to publish 5,000 books a year and to pay the cartoneros five times as much as they’d receive from garbage processors.

Eloisa Cartonera is located in Buenos Aires but the concept has spread throughout Latin America. decorating-book1

The books are inexpensive (one newspaper article reports that an Italian distributor bought 70 copies for three euros) and offer a promising return for foreign distributors as the books can be marketed outside of the country as a cultural and social project, not to mention unique pieces of art. It seems as if it’s a winning proposition for all involved.

Eloisa Cartonera has a website where you can  see some of their work.

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