Archive for the "office" category

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?

How can I reuse or recycle a LOT of pinback buttons/badges?

(Ooops, sorry for the absence – I was busy then ill because I’d been busy and also ill because I ate some tasted-fine-but-actually-bad out of date sausages. Yes.)

Right then, Nicole has been in touch asking about “pinback buttons”:

I have thousands of pinback buttons from a failed work campaign. Would love to make them over into something pretty and/or useful. Any suggestions?

I think “pinback buttons” are what we in Britain usually just call “badges” – which we have covered before. There are some great reuses on there (I love fabric covered badges) but I’m not sure if that’s an appropriate suggestion for Nicole – unless she wants to make thousands of them. The decorative pinboard pins idea might be better – since you’d use a good number on a pinboard at a time – unless the campaign failed so badly that you don’t want to be reminded of it ;)

Any more ideas for using up a lot of pinback buttons/badges?

(Photo by Ellen Munro)

How can I reuse or recycle paper that’s been printed on both sides?

We’ve already covered photocopier paper and printer paper in general – and there are some great suggestions over there but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on what I can do with a stack of paper which has been printed on both sides.

I usually make scrap paper notebooks with any waste paper I get my hands on – the back of drafts, printing mistakes, junk mail, envelopes etc – but since these have been printed on both sides (a photocopying mistake by someone at work), they can’t go into my usual notebook/reuse pile.

They’re just regularly black and white copies so I don’t think they’ll be quite pretty enough for turning into beads or photo frames, and we don’t have a shredder so I can’t shred them for use as packaging/animal bedding either.

Anyone got any ideas or should I just send them for normal paper recycling?

How can I reuse or recycle whiteboard marker pens?

We’ve had an email from Julie asking:

Can I recycle whiteboard marker pens? What plastic are they?

I don’t know what plastic they are. I’ve spent about an hour this morning reading the “about our products” page of all the marker pen manufacturers I can think of but no one mentions that – and no one mentions that. (They do though tell you how many solar panels are on their factory, or how they print the name of the markers onto the marker barrel. You know, useful stuff like that). ANYWAY. I’ll shoot emails off to all those companies to see if anyone of them can help us out with some info.

Even if the barrel is a recyclable plastic, it probably won’t be a case of just throwing in them in a green bin – you’ll probably have to remove the writing core (the ink “tampon” – see the things I learn reading these pen websites!) as that’ll be different from the hard plastic of the barrel. You can apparently get refillable whiteboard markers – you either resoak the “tampon” inside with more ink or replace the whole ink bit with a new pre-soaked one. Needless to say, the time/mess/expense of doing that means that only the dedicated will do it – for the rest, it’s easier & cheaper to replace & throw away disposable ones, sigh.

Does anyone know any more about recycling them? Or has any “reducing” ideas – how to make them last longer, which brands to get/avoid, alternatives in the first place? And can they be reused for anything?

How can I reuse or recycle window envelopes?

We’ve talked about envelopes in general and special types of envelopes – liked padded ones and plastic mailing bags – but I wondered if there are any reuses that take advantage of the see-through bit of window envelopes.

Different places have different policies on whether or not they can be including in general paper recycling bins – some complain about the window, others about the window & glue. The only snail mail I send is either parcels or things that arrived with a pre-addressed/pre-paid envelope so I can’t really reuse them as envelopes. Instead, the blank parts from the backs of envelopes goes into my desk scrap paper pad. If it’s been printed on, it goes into the kindling pile for our stove – but either way, the window comes out.

So any reusing/recycling ideas for intact window envelopes, that take advantage of the window? Or any suggestions for reusing the window by itself?

(Btw, I’ve noticed that some window envelopes are now made from glassine – a largely transparent type of paper. Glassine is not accepted in all paper recycling collection bin and it takes its sweet sweet time to compost because it is water-resistant – best to leave it out of your bin if you want a quick turnover.)