Posts tagged "envelopes"

What can I reuse or recycle to be an eco-friendly pen-pal?

Mary has asked a fun question:

I have a bit of a dilemma. I’m from Minnesota USA, and I have a pen pal in California. We love sending “snail mail” to each other in this day of somewhat impersonal emails/Facebook. While it’s very fun, I’ve recently been thinking about the waste. I keep the cards she sends me, but is there a way to purchase/make more eco friendly cards and envelopes? Thanks!

I’ve been thinking about going back to snail mail for keeping in contact with some people recently (to cut down my computer time) so this is a very well timed question!

You certainly can buy cards and envelopes made by upcycling old paper – old packaging, old maps, old books – all sorts of stuff. If you search for “recycled envelopes” on Etsy, you’ll see the range of stuff available (including ones from friend of Recycle This, SwirlyArts.) You could make your own if you’re that way inclined too.

Look around your home/office to see what you can reuse as writing paper – on my desk in front of me right now, I could use the white-side of some pretty-designed security envelopes, a brown paper bag or if I was feeling more delicate than I generally am, an old sewing pattern. I’d probably cut them neatly with a guillotine or straight scissors, but scrapbookers/papercrafters with the tools on hand could jazz them up with wavy scissors or punch designs. One pre-cut idea might be to use old blurry photos – the type that aren’t suitable for the photo album but look pleasantly abstract by themselves.

Another idea might be to use cards that will serve a different purpose once they arrive with your message – the most obvious idea is picking ones that are so pretty that they can be framed as art, either individually or if you fancy something bigger & bolder and a fun ongoing project, you could make your own large scale design (perhaps by decorating/upcycling card/cardboard packaging) and chop it into card size pieces for gradual reassembly at the other end. More practically, you could find/make a design for recipe cards or dividers for a seed box (or anything your penpal might use for a hobby) – print it on one side of your card/paper and write your message on the back.

A finally suggestion/question from me: it is, of course, better to Reduce than reuse or recycle – would it be possible to make a secure reusable envelope/pouch that could be sent back and forth? If it can be made from existing materials all the better – any ideas?

Any other suggestions for Mary?

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.)
Continue Reading →

How can I reuse or recycle window envelopes?

We’ve talked about envelopes in general and special types of envelopes – liked padded ones and plastic mailing bags – but I wondered if there are any reuses that take advantage of the see-through bit of window envelopes.

Different places have different policies on whether or not they can be including in general paper recycling bins – some complain about the window, others about the window & glue. The only snail mail I send is either parcels or things that arrived with a pre-addressed/pre-paid envelope so I can’t really reuse them as envelopes. Instead, the blank parts from the backs of envelopes goes into my desk scrap paper pad. If it’s been printed on, it goes into the kindling pile for our stove – but either way, the window comes out.

So any reusing/recycling ideas for intact window envelopes, that take advantage of the window? Or any suggestions for reusing the window by itself?

(Btw, I’ve noticed that some window envelopes are now made from glassine – a largely transparent type of paper. Glassine is not accepted in all paper recycling collection bin and it takes its sweet sweet time to compost because it is water-resistant – best to leave it out of your bin if you want a quick turnover.)

How can I reduce the amount of packaging I receive in the post?

The other day, Mrs Green of My Zero Waste mentioned how happy she was to receive something in the post wrapped in newspaper rather than a bubblewrap lined envelope or plastic bag.

We buy a lot of stuff online – secondhand stuff from eBay, homemade things from Etsy/Folksy, computer bits, craft supplies, clothes for us and the bajillion small people exploding from the loins of our friends etc etc – and as a result, always have a large amount of packaging lying around our office. A lot of online shops have made improvements over the last few years – crinkled brown paper or air bags instead of polystyrene packaging nuggets, and I’ve received stuff from eBay in all sorts of reused cardboard boxes – but the pile still grows. I reuse it where I can (see below for related reuses) but I’d rather reduce the amount of stuff I receive in the first place if possible.

The most obvious answer to the question is “stop ordering so much stuff online and support your local shops instead”, which is fair enough for some things but other things are harder to come by in real life.

Has anyone ever asked an online shop to reduce the amount of packaging they use? Has anyone sent it back for them to deal with? I’d love to hear your experiences.

If you sell stuff online, what do you do to keep packaging minimum? Got any suggestions for others in the same position?

Post packaging reuses

Interesting Reusing & Recycling links