Written by Elizah Leigh
If you take a cold, hard look at the statistics on junk mail, the very act of opening unwanted mailbox deliveries chews up 8 full months of the typical human life span. As if that’s not bad enough, 4.3 million of the 5.6 million tons of annual unsolicited correspondence sent to American households is ultimately landfilled using 340,000 garbage trucks despite it being perfectly recyclable.
While eco-concerned citizens can take targeted actions to purge their mailboxes of unwanted snail mail (courtesy of such organizations as JunkMailStopper and Consumer Alert, among others), one of the easiest ways to make a positive environmental impact is to keep it out of the waste stream in the first place. Oh, it’s not even that challenging to do, either. As with repurposing books, belts and countless other post-consumer materials, we’ve got your juicy eco-DIY ideas in the bag – just read ‘em and reap… a greener tomorrow, that is.
In The Office:
- A4-sized solicitations can be reserved for ‘scrap’ printing needs. Just print on the blank side of any 8 ½ x 11 inch page that crosses your path, and voila... you just earned your eco-wings!
- Accent glass paperweights or marble magnets with an eye-catching punch of color courtesy of selectively snipped graphics gleaned from unwanted junk mail.
- Turn bill envelopes inside out – the security patterns are actually pretty snazzy – in order to make snail mail correspondences really stand out in the crowd.
- Make simple scratch pads for grocery and to-do lists – don't we all need these?!
- Lest we forget; glossy, eye-catching handmade envelopes can be whipped up in no time flat and they're guaranteed to look so much more desirable than manufactured, store-bought versions.
In The Gift Room:
- Adorn your presents with these memorable biodegradable gift bows.
- There’s no need to plunk down big bucks on newly manufactured gift wrap that almost always ends up in the garbage when you can make your own recycled junk mail version… with complementary gift tags to match.
In The Craft Room:
- Tuck pictures and graphics (cut out of junk mail) into a file that can be flipped through any time you want to create a collage or other visual art project.
- Make homemade junk mail paper or upgrade it with embedded seeds so the whole thing is entirely plantable once you’re done with it!
- Tuck lucky ‘found’ pennies into mini recycled junk mail envelopes for daily wishing inspiration.
- Transform the tear-off flaps on your Netflix envelopes into a diverse array of origami creations – this idea can certainly be adapted to whatever paper solicitations end up in your mailbox.
- Your next soiree will be slightly more affordable when you make your own mini party bags.
Create Wearable Fashionable Accessories Such As:
- Dramatic recycled paper headwear a la Nicky Watts. (Calling Lady Gaga!)
- Festively feminine hair barrettes or bobby pins.
- An origami-style fan dress like Nancy Judd’s stunner.
- Bangle bracelets that make the most of your overworked office shredder.
- Lapel pins a la Sex and The City's enviable fashionista, Carrie Bradshaw.
- A trendy manicure imprinted with graphics taken from unwanted junk mail.
Create Fine Art Such As:
- A colorful tapestry-like backdrop for hand-crafted wall art using very thin strips of junk mail.
- Cheerful three dimensional textural creations or a multi-hued triptych.
- Emulate the artistic style of Rev K, who transforms junk mail envelopes into detailed miniature artistic canvases.
- Sandy Schimmel's junk mail mosaic art works will also make you oooh and aaaah with creative inspiration.
Create Clever Décor Accents Such As:
- A woven wastebasket or upcycled, candy-stripe coated storage box.
- Window blinds accented with carefully cut out strips of junk mail which filter light eco-stylishly.
- A brilliantly colored and surprisingly durable table runner (or even placemats).
- Seasonal windowscape decorations.
- Flouncy hanging flowers, folded six-petal stunners or a field of blooms using recycled catalogs.
For more juicy green goodness, follow Elizah via Twitter @elizahleigh
Looking for a quick breakfast? Try these delicious whole rolled oats that cook up in just a few minutes. Or make this recipe in large batches on the weekend so you have for the week.