Posts tagged "paper"

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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How can I reuse or recycle till receipts & their rolls?

We’ve had an email from Roger:

I was wondering Have you ever featured Till receipts on your website, I work in a supermarket and at least once a day i ‘run out’ of till receipt paper and have to replace it, But i’m sure there is at least 10% of the paper still on the roll, and if you add this up to all the tills in a store that’s a lot of wastage.

I like to keep mine to one side until a parent with small child come along and donate it as some colouring in paper, or use it to write class notes but i was wondering if you know of any recycling schemes for en mass collection or even if the paper is recyclable full stop (it has a glossy finish)?

There is also a sturdy plastic tube as well that you can glue together to make a pen holder, but there are only so many pens in the world.

When I used to work at supermarkets, back in the day, we used to keep the end of the rolls for notes – break times if nothing else – but the plastic rolls were just slung in the bin.

Receipt rolls used to all be thermal paper – like the old fax paper – and that can’t be recycled – but I wonder if that’s changing now (most of the supermarkets I’ve been in recently have new printers, to either do double-sided receipts or to print it all at the end) – anyone know? If they still are thermal paper, we’re be looking for reuses rather than recycling suggestions.

As for the sturdy plastic rolls, I don’t know of any recycling schemes off hand but I’ll contact some of the big chains to see if they do anything. Aside from the logistics of returning them, it doesn’t feel like there is anything in the way of stopping them being reused for the same purpose, since they don’t exactly change or get damaged during their roll. Anyone know of any schemes to reuse them? Or have any suggestions to reuse them elsewhere?

How can I reuse or recycle clothes patterns?

Carol sent us an email explaining:

I often see huge bins of clothes patterns at thrift stores. Most helplessly outdated or missing instructions. I have used them in the past as packing material but was wondering if there was any other uses. Seems like there has to be some use for the tissue type paper.

I’ve only just started making stuff from patterns but I’ve already built up a little stack of dressmakers’ tracing paper squares from the excess bits of paper from around the edges of the pattern. If I was more artistic/less clumsy, I’d imagine that I could make an interesting (low-power) lampshade by layering them around a frame or even a privacy shade panel for a window – but since I’m not, I’ll keep them in an envelope pocket in my sketch book for when I need to trace.

Lots of people seem to use them for decorative decoupage projects – for example, decorating little boxes, gift tags or furniture (I can’t find the pictures now but I’m sure I’ve seen a sewing table covered in an old pattern). Just remember to use some sort of sealer so they don’t get wet and/or tear.

They also be used for just about any tissue paper craft – the only “problem” being the somewhat muted colour compared to most bright tissue paper. That doesn’t mean they can’t look great though – pale flowers can still look fantastic whether as a bouquet or as mini fairy lightshades.

More practically, I do like Carol’s idea of using them as a packing material and they could also be used as delicate gift wrapping paper for handmade projects.

Any other suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle magazines?

magazinesI discovered something amazing the other day: in four and a half years of running this site, after asking “how can I recycle this?” about over 850 different things, we somehow have managed to miss mentioning magazines. We’ve covered the plastic baggies they’re delivered in and various similar paper items like catalogues – but not magazines. Shocking!

The discovery happened because a friend of ours has 300+ old New Scientist magazines that he no longer wants and would like a green option for disposing of them.

A few years ago, many paper recycling bins couldn’t accept glossy paper – they were either office paper or newspaper only – but that’s changed now and magazines can be recycled in most paper bins so as a minimum, our friend could do that. He could also try giving them away on his local Freecycle/Freegle group – the magazines will be out of date from a news point of view but someone still might want to read the not so time critical articles.

For smaller quantities of magazines, there are a lot of examples of people re-using magazines for crafts – often using rolled up pages to make photo frames or ornamental bowls.

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?