How to Recycle Stationery at Home

It's Recycle Week 2022! Stationery seems like an easy thing to recycle, but there are several things you can do to avoid creating waste and get the most out of your old notebooks. Here's suggestions of how to effectively recycle stationery at home.

The question of what to do with old notebooks can be a source of anxiety and guilt: How can I recycle stationery so it doesn’t end up in landfill?

The good news is paper can be recycled up to 4 times: but only if you recycle it properly. There are also various ways to squeeze more use out of your old notebooks before you recycle them.

1. Remove plastic and metal

Assume a paper notebook can go straight in recycling bin?

Think again!

It's a common misconception that anything made from paper is fully recyclable. But it's the additional materials, applied to the paper, that can contaminate your recycling. If paper arrives at the recycling centre with certain materials attached it gets rejected; and unfortunately, sent straight to landfill. 

As a rule of thumb, anything plastic or metal must be removed from your notebook and disposed of separately. This includes things like paper clips, wire, laminated covers, foil and string.

Check your local council website to see if there’s specialist recycling scheme for these materials. Otherwise, throw them into your general waste bin.

Wirobound Notebooks Coffeenotes

2. Separate wires

It’s a little-known fact that wires used for spiral bound notebooks are typically coated in plastic. This makes it a problem to recycle the whole notebook at home without creating any waste.

To help make recycling easy for you, our Wirobound Notebooks are bound with plastic-free wires which means you can recycle everything: leaving zero waste.

You still need to separate the wire from the pages though. Again, recycling centres will reject the notebook if the wires are still attached to the paper.

Twist and tear the wire away from the pages to separate it or try a quicker method like cutting the wire with pliers. Next, scrunch up the wire too as this helps during the recycling process.

Pop both the wires and the paper in your recycling bin. Job done!

 3. Reduce your use

Reducing your paper consumption is a daunting prospect for stationery lovers, we know!

Try and get the most use out of your notebook before recycling it or buying a new one.

The obvious way to do this is simply by ensuring you use both sides of the page.

We’ve added a dotted grid to the reverse side of each page in our List Pads, Organiser Pads and Weekly Planners to encourage you to do exactly this. Giving you extra space for doodles and notes so you get the absolute most out of your stationery.

Coffeenoted Notepad Dotted Grid Reuse

4. Repurpose

The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding ways to repurpose your old notebooks. These are some of our favourite ideas:

  • Use individual pages as wrapping paper (our Grande Stitched Notebook pages are the perfect size to wrap gifts)
  • Save the papers for a rainy-day craft activity. Our covers come in a variety of colours and textures and are an ideal thickness for origami, collages, or paper sculptures.
  • Use the text pages as packaging: scrunch them up and place them inside an envelope or carboard box to protect your items.
  • Paper is great at absorbing moisture and odour. Lay the pages at the bottom of your cutlery or clothing drawers for added protection.

5. Donate

If you’ve got unused or partially unused notebooks, then one of the best things you can do is donate them to those who need it most.

Some local council websites signpost to organisations where you can donate your old paper items. Take a look at their recycling or waste management pages.

Otherwise, contact your local school, nursery or charity to enquire if they need any stationery.

If you’re a business with old stationery lying around your office, how about getting in touch with the brilliant charity Pens for Kids who we work with. They’ll take your notebooks, pens and pencils and send them to schools and orphanages around the world.

Remember: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Whatever you choose to do, just remember the three concepts that will help you minimise the amount of stationery waste that ends up in landfill: reduce, reuse, recycle. And don't forget to strip your stationery of any materials that might contaminate your recycling!

Read next - Sustainable Stationery: Tips for Going Plastic-Free

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