Saturday, October 18, 2008

Writer Recycling

We're doing our usual fall house-cleaning this weekend to get ready for the winter holidays, but rather than throw stuff out, I'm trying to figure how I can recycle things.

Junk mail is always a problem, and today a national political party sent me a big flyer to try to sway my vote. There isn't a single picture or word about their candidate, his platform or what he plans to do in it; it's 100% nasty quotes from dubious media sources trashing the other guy. Typical. Included in this junk mail were three rather nice pictures of the other guy. I cut out the photos and taped them in my journal and wrote a little bit about what I think of him, then put the rest of the flyer through the office shredder. I'll use the shredded material to pack fragile items for shipping.

A favorite author of mine had a wonderful keeper story in an anthology with other authors who, while competent writers, aren't going on my keeper shelf. Because I know I'm going to reread the keeper story frequently, I excised the pages I wanted, hand painted a new cover and rebound them with it. Since I don't donate vandalized books to the library, the remains of the antho will be recycled page by page in my flower press.

I've collected some beautiful handmade paper over the years, and I had one stack of very fragile but truly gorgeous stuff that I've never figured out how to use. I cleaned out that cabinet drawer today, found the fragile stuff and a folder with mat board scraps I've also saved to use as cover boards for my handmade books. Matt board + pretty fragile papers + glue + much patience = a pile of very neat cover boards and bookmarks. For the bookmark ribbons, I used trimmed pieces from my yarn scrap bag.

This year's desk calendar is one of those page-a-day variety with famous paintings from all over the world. Because each page is double-sided, I've had to save them all to flip them over back in June. Flipping through them all year gave me the idea of what to do with them after December: bind them into a flip book so I can look through them again when I need inspiration.

Both of my kids want to clear out the picture and story books they've kept since elementary school. Usually I donate these to the local library, but I had to call the hospital today to set up an outpatient appointment, and after I did I asked them to transfer me to the pediatrics ward. Turns out they are desperate for kids' books for their young patients, so that's where I'm taking ours.

What have you been altering, reusing or recycling? Give us some ideas in comments.


  1. Which of course begs the question about what the story is??? But I know that would reveal the non-keeper stories and I'm guessing you didn't want to. Which is a bummer. Sigh. But I like the idea of creating the new cover.


  2. is a fantastic way to get rid of stuff, as well as a great way to find things you need.

  3. I really like bookcrossing dot com. It's the most fun I can have with my used books. I love to read but don't re-read much. I like the serendipity aspect of leaving a book where other people can find it.

  4. Anonymous9:02 AM

    I take scraps of paper, endpapers, wrapping paper, etc. and make jewelry out of it. The earrings are feather-light.

  5. Di wrote: Which of course begs the question about what the story is??? But I know that would reveal the non-keeper stories and I'm guessing you didn't want to.

    I thought about it, but there's no way I can praise the one without condemning the others -- that's what sucks about anthos. Also, while the other writers are not presently in the same league as my keeper, they may get there someday.

  6. Gina wrote: is a fantastic way to get rid of stuff, as well as a great way to find things you need.

    What a neat idea and site -- thanks for the link, G.

  7. Anonymous9:48 AM

    I have an idea I know which antho it is, and if I'm right I agree with you. The one story is better than the others, and I happen to like 2 of the other authors so well I have them on auto buy.

    As for recycling - I re and re-read a lot of books, and when I clean out my shelves (I have 5 bookcases full double stacked, as well as on the tops of them and in boxes on the floor)I take the books I don't want to sell to a nursing home that double as a rehab center for a local hospital. I discovered this place after my mom was put there to recoup after surgery. They always need things, and books are great.

    Another thing I've done to recycle is when a person remodels their kitchen or bathroom and they have those ceramic tiles - if instead of throwing them in the landfill a person can reuse them either in your own home, OR turn them into something else. Break them up to use as mosiacs, paint on them and create scenes, lots of things. Those tiles also make great hot pads for pans and coaster for drinks.

  8. Anonymous10:41 AM

    I'm collecting magazines for a pre-nano collage fest tomorrow. Then, the remains will be turned into new paper.

    I live in one of the states that has produced a presidential canditate, so we have had mercifully few political ads this year. :)

    And, we stoo are going through children's books. We know of an organization that is collecting them at this time, so it is very good timing for us. (Books are the things we tend to "collect" rather than anything else. But there are some the kids have that will not be re-read, and don't invoke fond memories. As you would expect, they are in very good condition because of this.)

  9. I'm currently using some recycled glass in a remodeling project in my guest bathroom.

    We recycle so much in the Keys. At work every year, we hold a little contest among employees to make recycled holiday items. The Finance Department took shredded white paper, filled plastic bags and made snow men. I did a snowglobe out of a washed out jar and egg shells. Someone painted a Santa face and reindeer on a lightbulb. We spray painted old coconuts. There are many decorative things to do with old discs, too.

    I take books to the Salvation Army and the library, too.

  10. I realize that a lot of people pay their bills online nowadays, but if you still do the snail mail anything that they send to me, I send back when I pay my bill. Why should I throw away their garbage.Why do they have to send me garbage anyway?

  11. I mostly just recycle and donate without doing anything creative. The exception: recycling old jeans into a jeans quilt. Everybody needs one of those.

  12. Our city recently added free recycling to our trash service (well, tax-funded...they don't bill homeowners individually), and provided every homeowner with a huge (128 gallon? nearly 4-ft tall with wheels) recycling container. They take everything--plastic, cans, cardboard, paper. Magazines, newspapers, paperback books, junkmail, all go in. We now produce more recycling "waste" in our house than bagged trash.

    On the re-use front, my 4-year old is huge into art. She loves to make collages out of magazines, and we recently decoupaged pictures onto an oatmeal cyllinder for her to store toys in. My 19 month old gets the backs of papers to scribble on (he's not picky). I carry coupons to the grocery store in envelopes out of the mail (write the list on the back of it, and stuff the coupons inside). Recipts, postcards, and small pieces of junkmail become bookmarks when I don't have one handy.

    And, we have a compost bin (in a very small suburban yard, no less--it can be done!) where we put most of our veggie scraps from cooking, and any small plant trimmings (larger branches get bundled and sent off to the city compost pile--yardwaste pickup is another part of our wonderful trash service)

  13. Anonymous1:11 PM

    We use shredded paper in our guinea pig cage. Just don't include any colored pages or plastic since they eat the stuff!

    I too tear out the parts of magazines I want to keep and pitch the rest.


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