San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nonprofit makes shopping bags out of newspapers

As I sit here writing this story for The Tico Times, I know some of the newspapers the article is published in will be reused by the organization I work for.

I am a volunteer this summer with Kids Saving The Rainforest (KSTR), a nonprofit headquartered in Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast. Our mission is to preserve local rain forest land, educate the public about the importance of the environment, rehabilitate injured animals that we receive at our rescue center, and administer care for animals that cannot be released into the wild at our sanctuary. KSTR is recognized by Costa Rica’s Environment Ministry as an official care center for injured wild animals.

As a nonprofit, KSTR looks for creative ways to raise funds to cover its costs, which include a permanent veterinarian and a lot of monkey food. One major source of funds, besides donations received through, is the KSTR Souvenir Store at Hotel Mono Azul. Through our Saturday Kids Camp, we run projects with local children and volunteers, visiting tour groups and Broadreach primate-studies students, with everyone participating in making arts and crafts to be sold in the store. Products include jewelry, postcards, bookmarks and soap. KSTR has been fundraising through arts and crafts projects since its initiation in 1999. The store also offers the work of local artists and craftsmen. 

One of KSTR’s arts and crafts projects is to make paper bags out of extra Tico Times newspapers that aren’t sold locally. The papers are reused, thus eliminating waste, and the paper bags are given out at the souvenir store instead of plastic bags. This simple project eliminates the need to buy, use and throw away non-biodegradable plastic bags.

Old newspapers are also put to good use at KSTR’s Wildlife Rescue Center. We use them as drop cloths in kennels when transporting animals, as material to clean the cages, as liner for examination tables, and as an enrichment tool for hiding food.

We are happy to put old copies of the newspaper to good use. Please consider a creative second function for the paper you are reading today, too.

–Julia Paltseva

Julia Paltseva is from Waltham, Massachusetts, and is a senior at Harvard University.

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