Traces of Recycling

The covers of these books are made from corrugated cardboard acquired from cartoneros (Spanish) or catadores (Portuguese), grassroots urban recyclers in Latin America. The reuse of this material makes these books a testament to sustainable practices that have emerged in that region, often due to economic need. On many of these covers, we can still read what was printed on the cardboard, which gives us a clue as to what the boxes were used for.

 

This adds a layer of history to the books and also generates new meanings: for instance, symbols indicating that boxes should be protected from the rain or that the contents are fragile are integrated into the cover to suggest to readers that the books should also be “handled with care.”

 

In a different sense, these books also participate in the recycling of intellectual property. Many of the books feature creative commons licenses, which render the contents shareable and reproducible.