Posts tagged "paper"

How can I reuse or recycle wallpaper samples?

Following on from the paint tester pots the other week, I’ve got some wallpaper samples that have served their purpose too. I really can’t wait for our renovations to be over!

Like the paint, the samples were to check out ideas/colours/designs in-situ. Some of them were torn from rolls in shops (with permission! I’m not just a random vandal ;) ) and are about 60cm/2ft wide by about the same long, while others are A4 sheets that I’ve had posted out to check colours. They’re all thick, heavy paper as you would expect from wallpaper.

Obviously the best thing would have been to reduce in the first place – to be a bit more decisive and not collected so many samples but like with the paint, these are to offset a potentially larger waste by picking the wrong thing – so now I’m looking for reusing/upcycling ideas.

Most of them are “feature” wallpapers so patterns & colours that I like but not enough for them to be displayed as framed pieces of art in their own right. The ones with a small repeating pattern though could be used as paper behind something else in a frame though (for example, I have some pretty buttons that I might want to display – they would look great on some of the plain-ish pinstriped paper).

They’d be fine for lining drawers too – many people (including us) don’t line drawers with paper any more because the insides on modern furniture don’t tend to be as rough on delicates as they used to be but it’s certainly worth doing on vintage furniture – and looks pretty too.

Do kids still have to back school textbooks/exercise books? We used to use wallpaper (amongst other things) for that. The fact I have to ask that question probably shows that it’s not a reuse I could specifically do but others might be able to reuse wallpaper samples in that way — and I could keep some for next time I make a notebook for myself.

Any other ideas? How would you reuse wallpaper samples? Are they suitable for any papercrafts or would they be too thick?

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?

Turning books into art: our favourite practical & pretty upcycling ideas for old books

We’re having a bit of a book-themed week here on Recycle This and I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite reusing/recycling ideas – inspiration, how-tos and thing to buy if you’re not the crafty type yourself.

As I mentioned yesterday when talking about damaged books, it’s easier to revamp or reuse hardback books for practical purposes because they’re that bit tougher. They can be used for everything from statement bed headboards to “floating book” shelves.

On a smaller scale, they can be turned into purses/handbags, clocks, self-supporting photo frames, notebooks, iPhone charging units – and even table legs.

@AlishaAnnn told us about the table below on Twitter yesterday: “Table legs from recycled books with a metal rod through. They are sturdy and spin. Old barn window on top.” Great recycling!

That’s not to say paperback books aren’t without their reuses – their relative flexibility is an asset for things like this card wallet:

Other people prefer to use the pages of old books: either as art in themselves or as canvas for printing/painting, to decorate greeting cards, envelopes, super retro bunting or, on more elaborately, this fantastic paper wreath.

And BellwethersDB on Twitter had a good few ideas for using the pages too: “Tear out the pages and print vintage images on them and frame them! So pretty”, “Tear the pages and mod podge them onto old ornaments, add glitter and a ribbon. Voila! A “new” ornament!” and “Paper beads! Then paint them and string them on ribbon.” @_jennifergrace_ also tweeted us to say she’d used book pages as the background for welcome cards & name badges for a hen weekend, to make her own ideas notebook and as part of a bigger art project.

And speaking of pages, this desk tidy is made with a phone book but any oversized book – old annuals or craft books – would would just as well.

Finally, Alice in Blogland sent us a link to this fab recycling books for booklovers story, such amazingly intricate work!

Have you seen any other great example of reusing, recycling or upcycling of old or damaged books? If so, let us know in the comments!

How can I reuse or recycle damaged books?

As I mentioned on The Really Good Life earlier today, I’m having a bit of an unplanned book buying month this month so I’ve decided to have an equally hitherto unplanned book themed week on both sites :)

Thinking about books reminded me about an email I received a while ago (but can’t find at the moment) asking about whether water damaged books can be recycled. Even though they’re nearly entirely paper, the glue used to bind books can sometimes cause problems along the recycling chain so don’t assume they can be added to normal paper recycling bins – check with your local council/the company that collects the bin first. They can be composted though if you have a compost heap at home – tear them up and add alongside plenty of “greens” if you want them to rot down quicker. On a similar destructive vein, my friend Strowger assures me they burn very well, for a long time, in woodburning stoves, although I’m not sure I could bring myself to burn even a damaged book!

Most people I know get clear out their books by giving them to charity shops – but most charity shops, particularly large chain ones, only want them in a very good, sellable condition so they can charge a decent amount for them. People who do carboot sales or run adhoc jumble sales etc are often slightly less discerning (since they generally have less overheads so can sell them cheaper to offset the condition) – I regularly see boxes of books given away on Freecycle/Freegle labelled as “ideal for carbooters” so that might be an option if the books are still readable and you don’t fancy selling them yourself.

Hardback books – particularly ones with interesting, pretty or retro covers – can be recycled into folders for papers or notebooks (I’ll post some links to how-tos in a “upcycling books round-up” tomorrow). Other people scavenge undamaged pages from old books to use for papercrafts or artwork.

Anyone got any particular reuse, recycling or upcycling suggestions for damaged books, or their parts?

Upcycling ideas: bows & flowers & tins & umbrellas & everything

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “links round-up” post about some of the things that I’ve been emailed or spotted around the greater internet recently so … here goes!


  • With the major gift giving time of the year looming in the near-distance, I love this idea of reusing colourful children’s pictures to make gift bows instead of using generic plastic ones. Of course the same idea can be applied to any old paper – as the tutorial shows black-on-white newspaper text looks pretty cool too.
  • I’m always a sucker for stuff made with drinks cans but these flowers are rather cute – I especially like the painted ones.
  • Tinplategirl emailed recently her new tutorials site about working with tinplate – the smooth heavier-weight metal from various large tins & cans. The site includes a number of free videos introducing the craft – where to find the materials and how to work with them – and how-to PDFs for making all sorts of things (some free, some costing up to $9.95). A great resource for people wanting to move on from working with the more malleable drinks can metal.
  • And speaking of large tins, this tiered unit made from old biscuit/chocolate tins has been around for a while now but I thought it was worth mentioning because it’s a lot of fun and useful.
  • Another thing that’s a bit old but feels newly relevant given the sudden switch to autumn this week: how-to recover an umbrella frame. Great for revamping a brolly or fixing it if it gets torn – double up your green points by using old fabric (an old tent? old synthetic clothes?) for the umbrella and reclaiming the best bits of the original fabric for other craft projects (a water resistant swimming bag? or to make foam bath cushion?)
  • Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, do check out, which started as a 30 day/30 upcycled things project but is now a wider collection of upcycling ideas. No how-tos but lots of inspiring, pretty pictures.

Have you seen any fun or interesting reusing or recycling projects recently? Or have you got anything you’d like to show off of your own creation? Do leave a comment below!