Is it just me, or is every other mother of small people drowning in a constant supply of scribbles, cut-up scraps, and crumpled construction paper piles? We always have so. much. paper.
Last week, I was reminded by some environmentally focused books my children checked out from the library of how much I throw out. These books- and, consequently, my son- are also reminding me how much more I really should recycle.
So, except for a few special drawings, much of my kids’ writing practice and early doodles go into what we call our “cutting basket” (as seen in this post). The cutting basket is really just a catch-all container for any paper that we don’t want to save, but want to reuse in some other way. Recently, the cutting basket has turned into our recycled paper supplier.
Making recycled paper is a simple, fun project for almost any age, and you don’t need much to do it. (This post contains affiliate links.) Let’s get to it! Here’s all that’s required:
Here’s how to get it done:
1. Group paper into like colors. Rip or cut each group into small pieces and put in a wide-mouth mason jar, or other heat-proof container.
2. Meanwhile, boil water in a kettle. Once water is boiled, pour over the paper and let soak for at least 30 minutes. Try to have more water than paper in your jar- it will help to make a thinner pulp mixture, which spreads easier later on.
3. Blend the paper and water to make a smooth pulp. I do this with my immersion blender right in the mason jar. However, you could easily pour your paper and water into a conventional blender.
4. If you’re adding seeds, add them to the blended pulp mixture. This way, when your new paper is done being used, you can plant it to sprout wildflowers. 🙂
5. Place your screen either outside or over your sink. (Water is about to pour over it, so don’t do this step on your kitchen table!) Pour the pulp over the screen and spread in an even, thin layer, allowing excess water to drain through.
(This pulp is on my dehydrator screen.)
Note: Avoid holes or thick clumps in your paper as much as possible. This part can be a little tricky. I often start by spreading with a spoon, but I’ve found working with my fingers to spread the pulp gives me a little more control as it gets thinner.
6. Let your new paper dry. This can be done in the sun, near a heater, or in the dehydrator. Once it’s dry, it should peel off the screen fairly easily.
(A different batch drying out in the sun on an old screen door.)
Your recycled paper will be thicker, stiffer, and have more texture than the store-bought stuff. It will also have a lot more character! You can use it for making note cards or stationary that folks can plant instead of tossing when they’re done.
Some artful ideas to try:
- Add flower petals or small leaves to your blended pulp.
- Make designs with different colored pulp to create artwork.
- Try blending different colors of papers to create custom colored pulps.
- Play with different textures and sizes of paper pulp.
(A par-blended paper pulp mix that dried in this crazy, thick, colorful collage. Not super useful, but a cool experiment nonetheless.)
And that’s it! An easy way to be green, and encourage your children to care for their earth while they recycle their creations.