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