How can I reuse or recycle precious photo albums?

Joan left a question on the “suggest an item” stage:

A deceased good friend’s photo albums need to be disposed of. Mainly of family, friends and her cats, loathed to just chuck them in a bin, other than that, what do I do? Help…..

I’m sorry to hear about your friend, Joan.

The Photos

I’m presuming no one wants to keep them as they are – but if you have access to a scanner and a spare couple of hours, I’d recommend scanning them into a computer before you do anything with them. People may be more interested in having a copy of/access to the digital ones – you could store them online with something like Dropbox (which gives you 2GB of online storage space for free), and you might feel more free to doing something with them if you know there is a copy available if you ever want to see them again. Friends and family may want to keep a few hardcopies of special pictures too.

Because of how the paper is treated to be photographic paper, it can’t usually be recycled – the chemicals (including polythene) clog up paper recycling facilities. However, old (black and white/painted or very dated vintage colour) pictures are desirable for art/craft reuses – if you’re not the arty/crafty sort yourself, you could try giving them away via Freecycle/Freegle. We’ve addressed the question of snapshot photos before so some of those suggestions may inspire some ideas.

The Photo Albums

Because of the mix of paper/card with plastic, they’re not easily recyclable – but if the photos have been removed for scanning, the photo albums could be reclaimed and reused. Re-cover it with pretty paper or thin fabric, if you want to give it a new look.

If you don’t have a large album-worthy collection of photos yourself, you can use them for other things – flip-style albums are great for recipes or clippings. I know some frugal people in the US use them for keeping their coupons in order and I teach a couple of drama classes and use flip albums to store my exercises/lesson plan ideas — lots of possible organisational uses.

If they’re still in good condition and you don’t want to use them, then charity shops will take them – or you could sell them on eBay.

Any other ideas for either the photos or the albums?

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3 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle precious photo albums?”

  1. Zombie Dad says:

    I’ve found that old photo albums make great recipe holders. Most of the albums are sized to fit 3 by 5 inch photos, so it’s very easy to print out favorite recipes onto 3 by 5 inch paper, cut them out and glue them to an index card. This could be made extra special in this case if the late friend’s family could contribute favorite recipes to include in the book.

  2. anna says:

    Upload the cat photos to flickr or something similar, and mark them as free to use. Cat photos (even if the cat is doing something odd, or isn’t doing anything) can make awesome lols, to they could easily be turned to lolcats and other enjoyment for many people online.

  3. Patti says:

    The small albums can be used for a variety of purposes. You can clip recipes, or use them to hold newspaper clippings on a variety of subjects, Make a flip diary and write on small index cards, use for artistic or crafty ideas (great to keep clutter at bay), etc.

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