Posts tagged "office"

How can I reuse or recycle whiteboard marker pens?

We’ve had an email from Julie asking:

Can I recycle whiteboard marker pens? What plastic are they?

I don’t know what plastic they are. I’ve spent about an hour this morning reading the “about our products” page of all the marker pen manufacturers I can think of but no one mentions that – and no one mentions that. (They do though tell you how many solar panels are on their factory, or how they print the name of the markers onto the marker barrel. You know, useful stuff like that). ANYWAY. I’ll shoot emails off to all those companies to see if anyone of them can help us out with some info.

Even if the barrel is a recyclable plastic, it probably won’t be a case of just throwing in them in a green bin – you’ll probably have to remove the writing core (the ink “tampon” – see the things I learn reading these pen websites!) as that’ll be different from the hard plastic of the barrel. You can apparently get refillable whiteboard markers – you either resoak the “tampon” inside with more ink or replace the whole ink bit with a new pre-soaked one. Needless to say, the time/mess/expense of doing that means that only the dedicated will do it – for the rest, it’s easier & cheaper to replace & throw away disposable ones, sigh.

Does anyone know any more about recycling them? Or has any “reducing” ideas – how to make them last longer, which brands to get/avoid, alternatives in the first place? And can they be reused for anything?

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?

How can I reuse or recycle plastic mailing bags?

mailing-bagsEnvelopes? Easy peasy, a million reuses. Padded envelopes have plenty of reuses too. But what about plastic mailing bags? They seem to be the default choice these days for sending out fabric or clothing because they’re stronger/less likely to tear than paper envelopes or brown paper but also lighter so cheaper to mail.

If they’re neatly opened with scissors near the original seal, they can be reused as a slightly smaller mailing bag. Or you can use them instead of bin liners in small waste bins, or cut them into strips to make plastic “yarn” for repurposing projects.

They’re usually made from polythene, the same material as most plastic carrier bags, so can be recycled in the same places as those but you know me, I prefer to reuse than just recycle.

What else can we do with them?