How can I reuse or recycle old, used notebooks & jotters?

We’re having a book themed week here on Recycle This: check out our other posts on reusing & recycling books in general, damaged books in particular, and some of our favourite how-tos & handmade crafts to buy using old books.

I’m both a scribbler – both writing & drawings – and a hoarder, which means I have a whole lot of old notebooks, exercise books and jotter containing school/college or work notes, half finished stories and really bad little sketches. I do like flicking through them, remembering different projects & times of my life, but at the same time, I realise that they’re mostly just clutter.

Sometimes I’m good and throw out a bunch of them – removing any clumps of blank pages for use as scrap and, in the case of ones with polypro plastic covers, keep the covers for reuse too (mostly as covers for homemade scrap paper notebooks). Since the ones I’ve had are usually spiral bound or simple stapled notebooks, the used papers can go into recycling, the compost bin or for use as firestarting tinder without any worries about binding glue. But it’s so hard to destroy them. All those hours of work creating the sentences or pictures contained within!

Does anyone have any ideas for reusing or upcycling such notebooks instead of just recycling/burning/composting them? Anyone done anything crafty with kids’ school books to preserve their work?

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6 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old, used notebooks & jotters?”


  1. bookstorebabe says:

    Do you have a scanner? You could scan the story notes and artwork that make you smile, and save them on the computer. That way you can still refer back to them for nostalgia or for inspiration.
    Cut out the art, ect. you like, and use those pages to make a cover for a more permanent notebook or journal? You could get a fair amount onto the front and back and inside of a journal cover. Or cover folders. Anything along those lines that would be useful.
    Or cut out all the pages that are important to you, and bind them all together into one memory/inspiration notebook to flip through when the mood hits.
    Not a thing wrong with keeping your old work. Are you getting rid of it just because you feel you should? I know clutter takes over-believe me, I know!-but one it’s gone, it’s gone.
    Anyway, good luck.

  2. mzfitz says:

    i have made the black plastic fronted ones into chalk boards, which i have put up onto a wall, inserted into a photo frame for the bathroom to write love notes on and used one as a mobile one to advertise events xXx

  3. Bonnie Robinson says:

    Old notebooks can be used as art journals. Glue several pages together to make each entry stable. Paint with paper paints and add pictures and emblish.

  4. Uluska says:

    You can frame them for a nifty art work, or print photographs over them and then frame.

  5. olga hernandez says:

    you can use the paper of old notebooks, that have been written in, to make a small piñata
    you will need: balloon, old-used paper, paint, a lot of liquid glue
    inflate balloon(no helium)
    rip the paper into thick strips, dip them into the glue, place the glue covered paper on the balloon
    make at least 2 layers of paper and let it dry
    paint the paper covered balloon in any way you like
    pop the balloon and make a hole to put candy in it

    • lini says:

      Did you know you can make paper glue from flour and water? You start with a couple spoons plain flour in a saucepan, slowly add cold water mixing well to avoid lumps, gradually adding more water, about 1/2 pint. Bring to a boil stirring continuously until thickened, if too thick add more water. Cool, pour into a jam jar or other container, then use, perfect for kids, cheap and non-toxic (unless you keep it too long and it goes mouldy!)
      I use it to make liners from baking paper for tin cans when i make panetone. No horrid glue on my bread!



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