How can I reuse or recycle overhead projector transparencies?

OHP and transparencyFinally on this week’s Recycle This stationery theme, we’ve got this question from Nicole:

Now all my college’s lecture rooms FINALLY let you use powerpoint, I can get rid of all the OHP lecture notes I’ve created over the years. What can I do with them?

According to Wikipedia, most transparencies are sheets of cellulose acetate. The Google results are confusing but I think cellulose acetate can be recycled but I suspect it’s carried out more at a manufacturing level than post-consumer. Anyone know for sure?

What about reuses? I imagine they can be used like old photo negatives to make lampshades and the like – probably would work better for those with photocopied pictures, diagrams or text on rather than hand-written notes. Other ideas?

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15 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle overhead projector transparencies?”

  1. ebba says:

    If you’ve got blank sheets of overheadpaper you can put a photo underneath a sheet and draw the countors with a permanent pen. The result is really funny. With a colored peice of paper behind, you’ve got a peice of art.

  2. Clare says:

    I wonder if they could be passed on to the art department of a school to be used for mono-printing?

    You would tape an OHP sheet down (printed side to the table) and roll some ink on it. Then put down a blank sheet of paper, lay a drawing on top and go over the lines again with a pencil to produce a mirror image on the blank paper. You can play around with different drawing tools, too.

    We used new acetate off a roll in the art class I attend, but I think an OHP sheet would work just as well — the idea is to get a smooth surface that will take the printing ink and can then be thrown away at the end of class.

  3. Renee says:

    I can’t remember where I found this, but you can use laser transparencies in an inkjet printer and then while they are still wet, apply it face down onto watercolour paper and rub it or use a roller to make a rubber stamp effect. You can also use them for stenciling.

  4. Lupa says:

    Try adding holes with a three-hole punch, then using them as section dividers in a three-ring binder.

  5. glitterpixie says:

    similar to the art class suggestion. we used a lot of these in my black and white photography classes. if you know anywhere with a darkroom they may be able to make use of them. they can be used to lay over photos which creates a great effect of the writing covering a picture. or they can be cut small and used as negatives to teach the basics of photography and how to use the darkroom and photo sensitive paper etc

  6. twinks says:

    To reuse the transparencies in an art project, wipe them clean with alcohol, draw with markers on separate pieces a 1) background 2)some trees or other objects in middle ground 3) in foreground place people, animals, flowers whatever. Layer these over one another and you will have the illusion of depth, sort of like cartoon cells. Sandwich them between two matching cardboard frames and hang on wall…or in window. Could be kind of cool if you include some of the printed ones as background. Would make a fun and changeable work of art if you made a whole pane of them.
    Kids love to do this…it’ll keep them busy for hours.

  7. twinks says:

    Hmmm, try cutting them up into strips, punch holes in the tops and wire together a bunch – apply some gentle heat like from a hairdryer or a heat gun (from a distance, the heat gun will work very fast) You should end up with some very cool curly pieces which could be hung on Christmas trees, off a chandelier or make a line of ‘icicles’.

  8. Sara says:

    They are great for stenciling on walls. Just wipe them clean, then write/draw a shape, cut it out and then tape them to the wall to paint over. They are reusable over and over again, and you don’t have to pay for the same thing, but at an inflated price, that is sold at the paint shop.

  9. Simone says:

    Make curtains! That’s what my teacher did.

  10. Anonymous says:

    use it as a book jacket their pretty durable

  11. Rebekah says:

    I’m late to the game on this post, but for future searches, I thought I’d add that I recently found out how to properly recycle these. My workplace-declutter revealed a large amount of these that I couldn’t use, so this is one solution, at least in the U.S. 3M, the company that made most of these, takes them back- the link is the mailing address.

    • Elizabeth says:

      The recycling program in Exeter that 3M partnered with in transparency recycling recently went out of business, so they no longer take transparencies.

  12. Ruti says:

    If already written on, you can still use the little bits that are clear and use them for glass painting. Mark out your design with outliner,fill in the colours then cut out and stick on to make a nice greetings card.

  13. As with laminated posters. you can make trays and boxes out of them by drawing lines of about 2-3 inches on each side, making a snip and folding the sides up. Staples the sides and put a little strip of masking/sticky tape over the sharp ends of the staple to prevent accidents. Use the trays as drawer dividers, sorters for boxes and storage solutions. You can make lids by making trays that are 2-3 mm wider on each side than the original tray.

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