Sunday, November 8, 2009

Recycled Notepad Teacher Gift

What I've learned since this August:  Kindergarten uses lots of paper!  Little Bear comes home with new paper every day; notes from the teacher, permission slips, flyers for fundraisers, PTO event notifications, fun ideas to do at home, etc.  Many of these are printed on colored paper and only on one side.  My great grandmother - we call her Great M - turned 93 this September.  I love her thrifty ways; born of necessity and continued mostly out of habit.   This project reminded me of her because of the many times I've seen her write grocery lists, phone numbers, or even snail-mail notes in the margins and blank spaces on a printed flyer or brochure.  Great M's tiny carbon footprint could compete with even the hippest patchouli-wearing, tree-hugging, organic vegan recycler in Berkeley. 

You know how Little Bear loves to recycle, right?  Well, she also loves to give her creations away to friends and family.  She is really excited about the idea of recycling school papers into a cute notepad for Mrs. B.  I have to keep reminding her that I can't cut up every paper she sees, since that often includes bills, insurance company mailings, homework...

Materials used:
  • scrap paper
  • Shoe Goo
  • tiny stamp
  • stamp ink
 Tools needed:

  • Medium C-clamp
  • two small wood blocks

I decided on a size for the notepad - 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" - based on the smallest pieces of paper that I had in my to reuse pile.  The pile included papers from Mrs. B, junk mail, used envelopes, grocery lists, and other random papers with one blank side.  Using my good ole Fiskars paper cutter, I cut hundreds (or at least it felt like hundreds) of paper rectangles.  Fortunately, I don't often watch television, so had plenty of new-to-me material to keep me entertained while I cut.

I cut most of these in one evening, but I ran out of scrap paper before I had as many pages as I wanted.  Over the next couple of weeks, I would sit down for a few minutes each night and cut up any new scrap paper I had.  It really made me keep an eye out for pretty paper that was being wasted.  I picked up  flyers, memos, and copies of last month's calender from my office that were printed on colored paper or printed with color backgrounds on white paper and were headed for the recycle bin with the rest of our department's used paper.

I have to interrupt the notepad tutorial for a moment here to praise my department for a moment here.  I work in the Purchasing department of a global corporation.  Recycling has been a company-wide practice for a long time now, but in the past six months, my department has drastically reduced the amount of paper we use.  We have moved to storing documents electronically and we are using fax software that allows us to send and receive faxes from our computers.  As I tell Little Bear, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - in that order."

While I was gathering pages for the notepad, Little Bear picked out a stamp and ink pad and went to work adding just this little embellishment to the gift.  It made it infinitely cuter and Little Bear got to say, "I did this!"  Don't you just love that?

She stamped until she couldn't stamp anymore, then Mommy lent a hand.  We took the stamped pages and shuffled them randomly throughout the pile, making sure to put one on top of the stack.  I lined up the top edge of the pages as evenly as I could, which gave the rest of the edges interesting texture, and clamped it tight between two scrap blocks of wood.  Because the Shoe Goo is so thick, I just smeared it on with my finger, then smoothed the surface with a straight edge.

I left it clamped for 24 hours, until the glue was completely dry.  Then I took off the clamp and wood blocks and used a craft knife to trim off any excess glue. I will tie a pretty ribbon around it with a cardstock tag, and it's ready for gifting.


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