Posts tagged "paper"

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?

How can I reuse or recycle paper that’s been printed on both sides?

We’ve already covered photocopier paper and printer paper in general – and there are some great suggestions over there but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on what I can do with a stack of paper which has been printed on both sides.

I usually make scrap paper notebooks with any waste paper I get my hands on – the back of drafts, printing mistakes, junk mail, envelopes etc – but since these have been printed on both sides (a photocopying mistake by someone at work), they can’t go into my usual notebook/reuse pile.

They’re just regularly black and white copies so I don’t think they’ll be quite pretty enough for turning into beads or photo frames, and we don’t have a shredder so I can’t shred them for use as packaging/animal bedding either.

Anyone got any ideas or should I just send them for normal paper recycling?

How can I reuse or recycle restaurant menus?

Jessica left a message on the “suggest an item” page:

Hello, I work in a restaurant where we get new menus about every two weeks.

They are nice menus, but have worn edges, maybe, some wear and tear. But we throw these menus out by the hundreds every two weeks. It seems so wasteful to me.

We change them out to meet the company standards of how they should be presented. So what could be some ideas of how we can reuse the menus cause I’m pretty sure they can’t be recycled. Thanks!!

I’m presuming since they “can’t be recycled” that they’re laminated menus or similar – not just paper or card because they would be easier to recycle.

We’ve covered old laminated posters before so if they are laminated, there might be some overlap in potential reuses.

Any menu-specific suggestions though? Given the amount they’re going through, bulk reuses would be best.

From a reduction point of view, I wonder if it’s worth taking it up with the company further upstream – they’re insisting on the menus being changed without considering the green impact. Perhaps it should be up to them to change the menu design to make it longer lasting – or relax their standards. Has anyone had any experience of getting a company to change their policy for the greener – or any advice about what types of menus work best?

What can I reuse or recycle to make small seed envelopes?

I asked this question on Twitter yesterday forgetting I had a blog dedicated to such things ;)

Basically, I want to make some small envelopes/pouches for sharing spare seeds at a seed swap.

I imagine I’ll make them using scrap paper (old envelopes seem a logical place to start but I’m open to other suggestions) but I don’t know how will be best to go about making them.

I usually just use a complete old envelope (one of the bigger-than-A5 ones that the banks use, since that’ll all I really get through the post these days) – but the seeds only take up a tiny amount of space so that’s convenient but excessively bulky. And since I’m giving them away, I’d like them to be a bit neater/fit for purpose if possible.

They need to be reasonably tightly made (since some of the seeds are very small and will fall out of holes) and, if possible, resealable in some way (even if it’s just having enough space at one end to be folded over firmly a few times). Ideally they’ll be water resistant too.

The wonderful Mary Horesh suggested a great how-to for making super cute envelopes out of a square of paper – so that’s one idea. Any other how-to suggestions?

And any ideas/advice about what paper to go for or avoid? I’m imagining anything pulpy like newspaper or cheap book paper will be a no-no because they’ll absorb water rather than resisting it.

Any non-paper options?

Recycled Christmas decorations – our favourite ideas

Wondering how to make your festive season that bit greener by making recycled Christmas decorations?

There are lots of ways to make them reusing waste paper, scrap fabric, or random other things from around the home and garden – and they’re certainly not all just for kids.

Here are some of our favourites: