Posts tagged "books"

How can I reduce the amount of NEW books I buy or pass on my old ones?

We’re having a book themed week here on Recycle This – and on my simple living site, The Really Good Life too. Read about how to reuse, recycle or upcycle old books, damaged books and notebooks/jotters – and see inspiring how-tos & ready-to-buy items using books. Or on TRGL, read about my favourite simple living/growing/making/cooking books – and give me your suggestions for simple living/growing/making fiction (please!)

As good greenies, we all know that it’s better to REDUCE in the first place before having to think about reusing or recycling so I thought I’d ask a quick “reduce” question — how do you reduce the amount of new (as in brand new, just printed) books you buy? Any tricks to avoid the temptation or favourite ways to buy them second(third/fourth)-hand?

If you don’t buy books in general, but still read regularly, how do you do that?

And if you do buy books, how do you pass on your old ones so that others can enjoy them too?

I suspect some of these answers are obvious – for example, I use our local library regularly and also browse the shelves in charity shops* – but I wondered if anyone had any less common ideas that might be new to other people. I only recently discovered Abebooks – I wonder if there are any other gems I’m missing out upon!

Let us know your book-buying/acquiring secrets in the comments below!

* in that order: if I go to the library before any shopping expeditions, the “I need new input” urge has already worn off a bit and my bag is generally pretty full/heavy so I want to browse and definitely buy less stuff. Libraries are fab!

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?

Recycled Christmas – upcycle trash into handmade presents

Perhaps it’s just the blogs I read but it seems like more people than ever are thinking of making gifts this Christmas.

There are lots of suggestions out there for making biscuits, cakes or jams, or knitting or crocheting something pretty — but if you’re after a truly frugal Christmas, all those ingredients & yarns add up: what about things which you can make by reusing/recycling/upcycling things from around the home?

Here are my favourite ideas for simple & frugal upcycled Christmas presents:

1. Hankies

Handkerchiefs are easy to make from any soft old cotton fabric – bedding or clothing for example. They’re simple but always useful – and help the recipient cut down on their disposable tissue usage too.

Don’t feel they have to be boring white – I made the ones in the picture out of an old pink gingham shirt – and consider monogramming/embroidering them to make them extra special.

(Use 100% cotton fabric where possible and 100% cotton yarn too so that they can handle being washed at a hot temperature if needs be.)
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