Is that notebook you used for high school math class sitting in a drawer gathering dust? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Almost all of us have old notebooks sitting around with no particular use.

It’s time to declutter and help the environment in the process. Here’s how you can reuse and recycle all that paper!

What to Do with Old Notebooks

There are a ton of creative ways to repurpose your old notebooks, whether they have extra paper left inside or are filled to the end. Try any of these eco-friendly ideas!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/chanelparks/awesome-magazine-newspaper-crafts

Spruce Up Your Trash Can

If you have a metal trash can with empty spaces, you can wrap the filled pages around and add some style to your bin. This DIY project also works with old magazines and newspapers.

Creative Writing Exercises

This one is for the writers out there! Try dividing up the remaining paper in your notebook and coming up with creative writing exercises to fill each page. For example, 5 pages are for scary stories, 5 pages are for poems, and 5 pages are for flash fiction.

https://www.skiptomylou.org/how-to-make-newspaper-party-hats/

Make Hats

Do you want to avoid buying party hats for your kid’s birthday? Get crafty and turn the used pages from your notebooks into fun pieces of headwear.

Pull Out the Extra Paper

You have a bunch of loose paper in your notebook just waiting to be used. Pull out all the extras and use them as scraps for grocery lists, random notes, or games of Pictionary with the family.

Make a New Notebook

Remove any of the extra paper and weave a piece of yarn through the holes as a binding. You can form a cover by cutting a decorative piece of cardstock to size and fitting it on the front and back.

Scan the Important Stuff

Your notebook may be full of good stories and important details. Scan them onto your computer so they’re not lost forever.

http://noelleodesigns.com/shop/project-gallery/framed-embroidery-notebook-paper/

Turn It Into Art

Get ready for some fun collaging and turn your used notebook pages into art. You can put them in a frame and hang them in your office.

Practice Your Origami Skills

Origami is a fun activity to do with the kids. Reuse your notebook pages to create cranes, flowers, dinosaurs, and so much more.

Throw a Notebook Bonfire

While this one may seem wasteful, there’s always a need for kindling in the fire. Tear out the blank pages first and then celebrate the end of the school year by burning your used notebooks.

Use it Until the End

When all else fails, use the notebook until there’s no paper left. There are always notes to take at work, school, and everywhere in between.

Those half used notebooks should never end up in the dumpster. You have a ton of options as to how to reuse them. Get creative and find a solution that works best for you!

Where Can You Donate Old Notebooks?

You can also donate your gently used notebooks if you don’t want to do a DIY project. There are a ton of organizations that would gladly take them off your hands including:

  • Operation Give
  • Develop Africa
  • Samaritan’s Purse
  • The Wasteshed
  • Jaida’s Joy
  • Schoolhouse Supplies
  • The Education Partnership
  • Child Aid Foundation
  • Save the Poor International
  • Youth for Seva
https://www.facebook.com/OPGive/

Operation Give

Operation Give is an organization that supports the troops. Your old notebooks and other items go toward members of the military who can use them while they’re overseas.

https://www.developafrica.org/donate-or-collect-school-and-office-supplies

Develop Africa

There are many African schools that don’t have the supplies they need for their students. Your notebooks are shipped over to those schools, allowing the kids to get the education they need and deserve.

http://www.postcardslive.com/inspirations-operation-christmas-child/

Samaritan’s Purse

Every year around the holidays Samaritan’s Purse holds Operation Christmas Child in local churches. The idea is to fill shoeboxes with anything underprivileged children may need, including clothes, books, toys, and notebooks.

https://www.facebook.com/wasteshed/

The Wasteshed

Chicago is known for their thriving art community. The Wasteshed provides a resource for artists in the Windy City who need notebooks, sharpies, construction paper, and more.

https://www.facebook.com/wasteshed/

Jaida’s Joy

The Tooley family started their non-profit, Jaida’s Joy, in honor of their 9-year-old granddaughter. Their organization provides basic school supplies, like notebooks, to underprivileged children in Virginia.

https://www.schoolhousesupplies.org/about-us/our-mission/

Schoolhouse Supplies

Schoolhouse Supplies has been supporting public education since 1999. They collect supplies, like backpacks and notebooks, for schools in need in the Portland area.

https://www.facebook.com/TheEducationPartnership/

The Education Partnership

The Education Partnership works with over 100 schools around Pennsylvania to provide a resource for teachers and students. They help fill classrooms with the supplies they’re missing to operate.

https://www.childaidfoundation.org/

Child Aid Foundation

The mission of the Child Aid Foundation is to provide care for boys and girls of all ages and academic levels in India. You can donate a variety of educational supplies like notebooks, pens, backpacks, and textbooks to support their cause.

http://savethepoorinternational.org/photo-gallery/

Save the Poor International

This charitable non-profit works to gather supplies and funds that go toward orphaned children in Ghana. You can donate not only notebooks, but also medical supplies, clothing, and even bicycles.

https://self4society.mygov.in/initiative/frost-s-e-r-v-i-c-e-youth-for-seva-give-paper-back-3rd-apr-2/

Youth for Seva

Through their Give Paper Back program, this non-profit turns used notebooks into new ones for students in underprivileged communities. To date, they’ve helped over 43,000 kids in need.

The non-profits featured here are only a few places where you can donate gently used notebooks. You can also call your local school district and see if they need supplies or drop off any extras at the nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army.

How Do You Recycle Your Old Notebooks?

If you can’t reuse or donate your old notebooks, the last resort should be recycling them. You’ll follow a different process for spiral than for hardcover, but either way it’s super easy to dispose of them properly.

How to Remove Spiral from Notebook

Before you can recycle a spiral notebook, you have to remove the wire binding. Luckily, this can be done in just two simple steps.

  • Step 1: Clip the spiral at the top and bottom using a pair of pliers.
  • Step 2: Make a loop at the bottom and use your hands or an Allen Wrench to slowly unwind the wire. To speed up the process, you can also use a drill on a low setting.

You can then recycle that metal coil with your other metal items, or even better, repurpose it into any of the following:

New Haven, Connecticut allows you to leave the spiral binding in if you’re recycling a notebook in the curbside bin.

How to Recycle Different Notebook Covers

Hardcover notebooks, like Moleskines, compositions, and other journals, are also easy to recycle. It all boils down to properly disposing of the material used on the front or back cover.

Wood

You’ll find roughly 500 wood-recycling centers around the United States. This makes it super easy to recycle wood notebook covers. Check Google to find a center near you!

Cardboard

Make sure the cardboard is separate from the paper and then you can put it all in the curbside bin. You can also bring extra pieces to a nearby recycling center.

Paper

The paper inside of your notebook has to be recycled separately, whether you’re disposing of spiral bound or hardcover journals. You can then throw it all into the curbside bin.

Leather

Leather scraps, like a notebook cover, need to be taken to a recycling outlet for resale. If they’re not accepted, you can offer them to a school or theater group who may be able to reuse them in some way.

Plastic

Plastic bindings or covers are not always recyclable, but they may be if you can determine the type of plastic used. Contact the manufacturer or look at the notebook’s product description to learn more details.

Canvas

Fabrics are tricky to recycle. Look for various companies in your community that accept pieces of fabric, like art centers, park districts, or non-profits. For example, GrowNYC hosts “Stop ‘N’ Swaps” to collect textile scraps.

Vinyl

It’s possible to recycle a vinyl notebook cover after it’s been removed. To find a recycling center near you, check on this handy vinyl recycling directory.

No matter what, try to find creative solutions on how you can reuse these materials instead. It’s a lot better for the environment than just sticking them in the recycling bin.

Do you want to make sure you’re recycling properly? These helpful resources will keep you on track:

You can also contact your local recycler to ensure you’re disposing of every material or object properly.

Bring Eco-Friendly Notebooks to Your Next Event

Do you want something cool to sell at your fundraiser? Perhaps your wedding’s right around the corner and you want notebooks as favors. Either way, start off on a green foot with eco-friendly custom notebooks.

Here are a few good choices to get you started!

Eco Notebook

You can find eco-friendly notebooks that aren’t just plain and boring. Take this one for example. It’s made in North America from 90% recycled materials, lined with ivory sheets of paper, and printed in full color with organic, soy-based inks.

Bamboo Notebook and Pen

Why should the pandas have all the fun? These notebooks are made from real bamboo and also come with a pen made from the same material.

Eco Stone Notebook

The paper inside this notebook is made from 80% unused rocks from construction sites and 20% resin binder. The cover that holds it together is also made from recycled paper.

Recycled Magnetic Journalbook

The chipboard cover, lined sheets, pen, and magnet flap closure on this notebook are all made from recycled materials. This makes for an eco-friendly way to jot your thoughts.

Recycled Sticky Notebook with Pen

These notebooks are not only colorful, but they’re also made from recycled paper. They come with a matching pen as well as a set of sticky notes and flags.

Recycled Die Cut Notebook

Die cutting is a way to add a unique touch to your notebooks. This one, which is made from recycled materials, has a globe cut out right on the cover to remind you what you’re protecting.

Eco Spiral Notebook & Pen

If you’re on a budget, these are the eco-friendly notebooks for you. They’re made from recycled materials and come in five different color combos, each with a matching pen.

Handled Eco Set

Make it super easy to carry your notebook around. This eco-friendly set has a cover and pen made from 60% recycled material, paper made from 30% recycled material, and a convenient carrying handle.

Eco Rich Spiral Notebook and Pen

This notebook has it all – 80 pages of recycled paper with a symbol on the bottom of every page, a pen made from recycled paper, and a die cut recycle symbol on the cover. It’s the perfect choice for any eco-friendly event.

Two Tone Recycle Notebook

Going green has never been so easy! These notebooks are not only colorful, but they’re also sustainable with 70 lined sheets made from 100% recycled paper.

These customizable notebooks are a great choice for a variety of events. Choose the one that best suits your needs, and you’ll be helping the planet at the same time!

Why Should You Reuse or Recycle Your Notebooks?

It doesn’t make sense to let your old notebooks go to waste. You have a variety of ways you can reduce, reuse, and recycle. This is all for good reason. Just look at how much damage can be caused by paper!

Here are the facts you need to know:

  • Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste and 33% of municipal waste.
  • The average American will use about seven trees a year on paper.
  • The amount of paper we throw away ever year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
  • The average household throws away about 13,000 pieces of paper per year.
  • U.S. businesses use around 21 million tons of paper every year.

And this is why reusing and recycling matters:

  • Paper can be recycled up to six times before the fibers are too weak to reuse.
  • Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees and 3 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Making new paper from recycled materials generates 74% less air pollution and 50% less water than using new trees.
  • 87% of Americans have curbside pickup or drop-off paper recycling programs.
  • 64% of the paper produced in the United States is currently recycled.

You can also repurpose and recycle many other items like water bottles, pens, and umbrellas. All this effort goes toward a greener Earth and sustainable land for future generations!

The Bottom Line

You have plenty of ways to reuse or recycle your old notebooks. Get started and you’ll have not only less clutter in your life, but less clutter on the planet!

References

Morris, N. (2011). Materials That Matter: Paper. Amicus: Mankato, MN.

Carson, M. (2018, October 11). Exercises for People Who Buy a Lot of Notebooks and Never Use Them. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from
https://www.friendlyskies.net/notebook/exercises-for-people-who-buy-a-lot-of-notebooks-and-never-use-them

Latman, C. (2018, June 12). 5 Things to Do with Your Notebooks and Papers at the End of the School Year. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from
https://www.girlslife.com/life/school/31539/5-things-to-do-with-all-your-old-notebooks-and-papers-at-the-end-of-the-school-year

University of Southern Indiana. (2019). Paper Recycling Facts. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from
https://www.usi.edu/recycle/paper-recycling-facts/

Brucker, D. (2018, November 14). 50 Recycling & Trash Statistics That Will Make You Think Twice About Your Trash. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from
https://www.rubicon.com/blog/statistics-trash-recycling/ /

Recycling Bin. (2019). Recycling Facts. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from
https://www.recyclingbin.com/Recycling-Facts

The World Counts. (2014, May 13). Paper Comes from Trees… Retrieved August 6, 2019, from
https://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/Paper-Waste-Facts

LeBlanc, R. (2018, July 30). Paper Recycling Facts, Figures, and Information Sources. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from
https://www.thebalancesmb.com/paper-recycling-facts-figures-and-information-sources-2877868

Do Something. (2019). 11 Facts About Recycling. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from
https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-recycling

Bennett, S. (2015, August 17). How to Recycle Notebooks. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from
https://recyclenation.com/2015/08/how-to-recycle-notebooks/

Priebe, M. (2019). How to Recycle Notebooks. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from
http://www.ecolife.com/recycling/paper/how-to-recycle-notebooks.html

Personal Creations. (2019). What Can Be Recycled?: A List of 200+ Items. Retrieved August 7, 2019, from
https://www.personalcreations.com/blog/how-to-recycle-anything

Earth 911. (2019). How to Recycle Cardboard. Retrieved August 7, 2019, from
https://earth911.com/recycling-guide/how-to-recycle-cardboard/

Wikihow. (2019, March 29). How to Recycle Leather. Retrieved August 7, 2019, from
https://www.wikihow.com/Recycle-Leather

Bennett, S. (2014, May 22). How to Recycle Fabric. Retrieved August 7, 2019, from
https://recyclenation.com/2014/05/recycle-fabric/

Michael, T. (2017, January 2). Recycle Spiral Bound Notebooks – Easy Quick Wire Removal. Retrieved August 7, 2019, from
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfMUVpwLZGM

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.