Archive for the "office" category

How can I reuse or recycle little pencil stubs?

Over on the Suggest an Item page, Kate asked:

What can I do with old pencil stubs, the used ones that are too small to write with any more?

Stubs of old crayons are super easy to reuse – just melt a load down into a new, easy-to-hold shape and off you go – but I suspect pencils will be harder.

I vaguely remember being a kid and taping two together, end to end, to make a slightly longer, double-ended pencil – and it seems you can buy gizmos to help you do that now (although I’m pretty sure I just used tape).

I also know that Jane Eldershaw of JunkJewelry uses the ends of pencils in her work.

Any other reusing or recycling ideas?

How can I reuse or recycle (and reduce my use of) Graze boxes?

Ok, this is a bit of a rant dressed up as a Recycle This style question – it’s a genuine question but I feel the need to rant too! ;)

So many people in my (geeky) world are going nuts for these at the moment and it makes me want to cry — all the packaging, all the waste.

Graze boxes are designed to lure people away from vending machines and sugary snacks at work and get them eating more natural, healthier alternative instead. For £3.29 a pop, you get a box of snacks delivered to your desk instead – four different snacks (such as dried fruit, nuts, seeds, olives or crackers) inside little film-covered plastic tubs and encased in a cardboard box. The idea is to have them delivered regularly – several times a week – so you’re never tempted by that Mars bar or long-life vacuum-sealed muffin.

Graze’s claim to have thought carefully about the packaging – the cardboard is from a sustainable forest, is designed to be use as little material as possible & can easily be recycled again, and Mrs G from My Zero Waste asked about the plastic of the pots and it’s apparently PETE (resin code 1) which is widely recyclable where plastics are recycled.

Yes, it’s good news that the plastic is widely recyclable plastic – but getting a pack of it delivered to your door is hardly reducing waste (the first and most important of the 3Rs) and it’s not obviously reusable either. Where plastics aren’t kerbside recyclable, that PETE is likely to end up in the bin – and even the cardboard might too since offices don’t always have full recycling facilities.

(I’ll try to remain on topic with my rant here and not get into: i. how much energy is wasted transporting these light but bulky items around the country; ii. how much more expensive they are than buying the items directly; iii. how it’s easier to buy something than make a genuine lifestyle change.)

Anyway, I think you probably get the gist of my annoyance so let’s get constructive instead: the packaging can be recycled where facilities are available, any reuse suggestions though?

And what about reducing people’s use of them? Do you have any tips or suggestions how people could have the same healthy snacking experience without so much packaging?

(PS. sorry for the ranting ;) )

(CCA Photo by philcampbell)

How can I reuse or recycle old rubber stamps?

We’ve had an email from Lise, asking:

How can rubber stamps be recycled? I found a box full in the stationery cupboard from two department name changes ago!

Given the department name comment, I imagine these are custom ones, not generic “approved” or date stamps – I’d put the latter on eBay or Freecycle/Freegle because they’re still very useful in their own right. The former ones will be less reusable but I’d have loved to play with them when I was a kid (my childhood roleplaying was surprisingly bureaucratic; when I used to play ‘school’, I spent the whole time working out class lists & timetables for said classes) (really).

Depending on the construction of the stamps, you (or someone else) might be able to take them apart and reuse them to make new stamps – replacing the stamp itself but reusing the handles or the mechanism if it’s a self-inking one. Again, eBay/Freecycle/Freegle if you don’t want to give it a go yourself. If they’re very nice old ones, a local stampmaker also might want them to reuse as antique stamps.

If you actually wanted to recycle them, you’d have to break them up into their component parts too – all the ones I’ve seen have been mixed materials so they’d have to be split apart and recycled individually.

Any other suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle an old wall year planner?

We’ve had an email from Alex asking:

Can big paper wall planners be recycled? We’ve got at least a dozen at my school to get rid of now but I didn’t know about recycling them in the paper bins because they’re laminated.

No, it’s very unlikely that they’ll be accepted for paper recycling. Most wipe-clean plastic-coated paper – whether it’s actually laminated or just a thin coating on one side – is also more hassle than its worth when it comes to recycling.

There might be ways to reuse them though – we covered reuses for laminated posters last year and there is probably a big overlap for reuses (especially as a lot of those ideas are school-friendly).

It’s probably also worth investigating if you can get reusable wall planners for the future – dry erase ones without a specific year on them so you won’t have to throw them out each summer.

Any other ideas/suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle rubbish pencil erasers?

We’ve had an email from Sophie:

I bought a big bag of rubbers at the start of school but they were hard and rubbish so I turned them into stamps instead! I drew a design on them then cut it out with an art knife and they work great.

I remember doing something similar with them when I was at school – although it was less artistic/planned and more just me being bored with an compass in French. Another at-school reuse was, of course, flinging them across the classroom and watching them bounce off the walls/desks. I, of course, never did that, ahem.

If you buy a pack of mixed ones, there always seems to be a couple of really hard ones that don’t work very well in there. Aside from the stamps and airbourne weaponry, are there any other reuses for erasers that won’t erase?