- Arts and Design
How to Reuse Envelopes (And Be a Little Greener)
Think Before You Toss that Envelope
How many envelopes do you think you toss in the recycling bin, on a regular basis? (And please don't say, "none, they all go in the trash!") You can reuse, recycle, and use up, those envelopes instead.
By reusing the envelopes you get in the mail, in place of using other paper sources, you'll decrease the overall amount of paper that ends up in the recycling bin. Remember, although the mission is to recycle rather than fill a landfill, there is no nobility in having the fullest recycling bin in the neighborhood, either. We want to reduce ALL our waste, trash and recycling, alike.
Let's make sure you get every last bit of goodness out of those envelopes so that if they do end up in the recycling bin, they will have lived a full and useful life!
How many envelopes would you guess come into your house with the daily mail delivery (on average)?
An Envelope is Perfect as a Shopping List
Use the back of the envelope to write out your shopping list and slip your coupons inside the envelope.
Hey, if Abraham Lincoln could put the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope, you can put your grocery list on one. (And, who knows? Maybe someday it will end up in the Museum of You!)
Envelope Corners Make Quick Page Markers
Cut the corner off one of the closed ends of the envelope. You can slip this corner over the corner of the page in the book you're reading to hold your place.
This is an especially useful way to use colored envelopes (and printed advertising envelopes), as the color will stand out against the white pages, when the book is closed.
You can also use these page markers to mark recipes in cookbooks, or to tab research items, reducing your dependence on Post It adhesive notes or page flags.
Note: When using colored envelopes (especially near other valuable paper) be sure to test the paper for colorfastness. Some envelope dyes will run when wet, and you don't want to damage your cookbooks, or resource books.
What do you do with used envelopes?
Envelopes Are the Foundation for a Bookmark Craft
For fancier page holders, cut along the edge of the envelope, with the postage stamp at the top, to make a bookmark. Use as is, or mount onto a piece of contrasting colored paper (from another envelope, of course).
You can dress these up even more by pulling a piece of ribbon through a hole punched in the top, just like the fancy bookstore bookmarks. Clever crafters will also use rubber stamps, other punches ... maybe round the corners - heck you could even laminate your masterpiece to preserve it for all time, and give it as a gift!
Oh, and if your friendly correspondent uses fancy return address labels with a pretty picture next to their address, you can cut the strip down from there, so the picture is at the top, in place of the postage stamp.
If you really get into the bookmark thing to the point where you have more bookmarks than you could ever use, consider donating them to your local library. They may be able to sell them in a fundraiser, or even give them away to their patrons.
Envelopes Can Become Decorative Paper
Look closely at the picture to the right. Can you guess how that patterned paper began its humble life? (Okay that would be a tougher question if we weren't talking about envelopes, wouldn't it?) Did you ever think of safety envelopes as decorative paper? And you thought nothing good came in a bill envelope! Well get out those colored pencils and markers and start creating one of a kind paper for craft projects, right now!
Note: It's quite likely that the envelopes you're using are not acid free. If using these project ideas with photographs, use copies of your photos, not the originals, which may be damaged by the acid over time.
Envelopes Make Great Packing Material
Raise your hand if you hate those Styrofoam peanuts. I thought so.
When you've squeezed all you can out of your envelopes, run the leftovers through your paper shredder and use the contents of the shredder bin as packing material. If it's really pretty, you can even use it as gift box stuffing.
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