Shoreditch author raises money with fairtrade cardboard books

A Shoreditch author is raising money for charity with a series of hand painted books covered in recycled cardboard collected by litter pickers in Argentina.

Jemma Foster set up her project after returning from South America last summer with stories in her notepad and sheets of recycled cardboard stuffed into her suitcase.

The 28-year-old of Redchurch Street was inspired to compile a collection of short stories by the Eloisa Cartonera publishing group based in Buenos Aires.

The small cooperative buys cardboard from ‘cartoneros’ who make a living collecting from the city’s streets, pays them five times more than the government offers, and then uses the cardboard to make brightly decorated books.

“I just stumbled into them and thought they were brilliant,” said Jemma.

“I was wondering what to write about but it wasn’t until I saw the way they made the books and fell in love with them that I got the inspiration.”

She wrote 12 stories influenced by her experiences in South America, printed them on recycled paper and bound them in the recycled cardboard.

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Now she has put them up for sale to raise money for Abuelas Cuentacuentos, or Storytelling Grandmothers, which is an Argentine education charity taking elderly volunteers to read to children in schools, orphanages and hospitals.

“It has been good. Everyone seems to love the project,” said Jemma.

“The books are so unique. The fact that they are recycled and handmade with people from all over Argentina painting them means there is that story behind them. Everyone loves a one-of-a-kind.”

The books cost �10 each. For more information, go to