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Esteli – Stationery

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Esteli is the 3rd largest City in Nicaragua. It is located high in elevation, surrounded by forest and mountains, which make it the perfect place to grow tobacco for their award winning cigars along with their organic coffee plantations. During the war against the Somoza government in 1978/79, The streets were filled with heavy fighting and air bombing, which reduced many of the building to rubble. The streets today now contain art centers, coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, and traditional festivals along with the Association of Women Environmentalists.


In 2012, Jacqueline met Tina, one of the founders of the Association. Tina is a strong, independent woman raising her children by herself and spends her days making recycled paper—turning them into beautiful journals, cards, and bags. Sea el Cambio helps create new designs and has developed a long lasting partnership with Tina and the Association. The women sell their products in their store, in a cafe within Esteli, and through Sea el Cambio, which is providing an outlet and a steady income.

Within Esteli, there is land used as an illegal dumping ground filled with trash and dead animals. Some women of the community came together out of health/safety concerns and started to create compost from the garbage and recyclables. Due to the smell, the women were asked to stop, so they turned to recycling and making paper. They later formed the Association of Women Environmentalists in 1996.

How It's Made

2 lbs of recycled paper and 2 lbs of plant-based waste (banana stalks, corn husks, coconut shells) are combined with water in an old mixer. The mixture is put into a large cement sink where they submerge a screen, which they made, into the mixture. The sheet is removed from the screen, sponged off, then placed into a press that can hold up to 100 sheets of paper and left for an hour. Those sheets of paper are placed onto a board and left in the sun for 3 hours during the dry season or up to 4 days during the rainy season. Once the paper is dry, the women come together and artfully craft the paper into beautiful greeting cards, journals, and gift bags.

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