Most people find junk mail a daily nuisance, something tobe handed from postman to dustbin. There is, however, a special class of citizen -- to which I belong -- who have found a way to incorporate into their lives that 15th fund-raising letter received from the same ACRONYM within two days.
While some recipients don't even bother to open their unwanted mail, I positively look forward to it. Who can tell where the next blank side of a piece of paper is going to come from?
All those pristine "other" sides, in my household, are put to use: Some are cut up small and stapled into phone-message pads, others into longer, grocery-list size, still others for carrying around and jotting down memoranda. Many go into a stack by my typewriter for rough drafts and carbon copies.
Moreover -- if distant friends are accustomed to your eccentricities -- you can even turn this rescued paper into stationery.
It's my belief, anyway, that real letter-writers and uncontrollable list-makers don't need monogrammed sheets or tablets imprinted with the words "Don't Forget."
Starting to be creative with paper can turn to an addiction. Once I was hooked, I began to confide in friends.I learned I was not alone. One woman even claims that her mother, a recycler before the word or practice became fashionable, steams open envelopes, lets them dry flat, then refolds and reglues them on the fresh side. That may be a caseof excessive zeal, but it should give you an idea of how a little ingenuity can help save money and preserve forests.
Here are other ideas which could inspire you. None take much time or energy, only the desire to make a paper product work overtime. (And a tolerant roommate.)
Old pictorialcalendars. The pictures can be cut off and used to wrap small objects, or cut up for making your own greeting cards.
Greeting cards. Can be turned into small package tags, or they can be cut, pasted onto cardboard strips and become bookmarks. Cards with no writing on the back side of the illustrations can be snipped in half to be used as postcards. (Or turn these things over to hospitals, children's homes, day-care centers, nursery schools; many like to have such things for children's art projects.)
Wrapping-paper cardboard rolls. Kindling, if you have a fireplace.
Newspapers. Some truly thrifty souls shred them for kitty litter. Mostly I recycle them when the stack gets above my head. Before that, I grab them for wiping off mirrors and glass (they're better than paper towels because they leave no residue of lint), making twists for the fire, and to drain baconon. Newspapers also make novel wrapping paper, particularly the Sunday comics. The classifieds, I should add, look terrific tied with black velvet ribbon.
Magazines. Hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and senior-citizens' centers are interested in passed-on magazines, as well as some branchlibraries. One or two readers to a magazine is like an empty bus: energy-inefficient.
Brown paper bags. Some grocery stores offer pennies back if customers return them forreuse. If those economics don't grab you, remember that they can be cut apart and turned into heavy-duty wrapping for parcels going through the mail.
Book-mailers. Almost endlessly reusable, if you pull them open at the stapled end(I haven't figured out a way to reuse the staples yet) and ignore instructions to open them any other way. Manila envelopes also can be opened with reuse in mind.
Giving "born-again" status to all the paper in your life can turn a casual obsessive-compulsive type into a paper tiger.Still, crazy as it all may sound, it's a better habit to have than not.