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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Schoolhouse Supplies has been supporting public education since 1999. They collect supplies, like backpacks and notebooks, for schools in need in the Portland area.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Add some color to your notes! The cover and paper are made from recycled materials, while the color pencil set is made from genuine wood material.
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.
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.
Be ready for any project with this all-in-one notebook. It contains fifty sheets of recycled paper, a pen, carrying pouch, sticky notes, and a handy ruler on the side.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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