Alternative school turns trash into treasure
April 20, 2007

Making paper at the Greenhouse School in Salem, MA is a hands-on job.

Amid the swarm of new ideas meant to capture the public's imagination in combatting global warming, kids, staff and parents at The Greenhouse School have been quietly plugging away for years, turning recycled waste paper into unique handmade cards and other items.

"It was a natural thing for us," said Director Dan Welch. "We run on an extremely tight budget, so we're always trying to reuse whatever we can."

Part science project, part recycling, part fundraising, the idea took root more than 10 years ago. Grinding up old paper to make into beautiful new cards was just one more way to turn trash into treasure. The cards, bookmarks, invitations, gift tags, ornaments and other products are then sold as a fundraiser for the independent alternative school in Salem, MA.

"At one point we were selling these cards in shops from Alaska to Maine to Florida," Welch explained. "Even a restauranteur in Virginia comissioned a set of menu covers made from the school's handmade paper. There was a neat little store in Boston, where our cards were sitting next to hand carved items being sold for thousands of dollars. It was quite a rush," added Welch.

Over the years, newer projects took precedence, some of the shops went out of business, and the school was making less paper. But that is about to change. Assistant Director Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde wants to set up a school store where the paper creations, along with handmade soap, jewelry and other handcrafted items from within the school community can help raise much needed funds for programs.

"We make some incredible stuff--we want to display it more, highlight the special things we do, and raise funds at the same time," Nambalirwa-Lugudde said.

Serious shoppers may request a catalog of their handmade items here.

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