Zero waste DIY: How to make a simple recycled journal

It’s time to apply for The Simple Year 6! Click HERE for details, or check out “The Handoff” link above.

As mentioned earlier in my office post, I have access to a stupid amount of paper with printing on just one side. I use it for my daily lists at work — I keep track of what stories I’m working on, who I need to call, how many pages are slated for the current edition and what is going where (my brain is 44, so … yeah, safer to write it down) — but there’s only so many sheets I can go through in a week, and in the meantime, more paper is added to the stack.

A couple of years ago, I took about 40 such sheets, folded in half, blank-side up, to the local copy store to have bound into a spiral notebook. It completely freaked out the employees — they didn’t understand why I’d want the loose ends bound or believe me when I said I didn’t care if the pages all lined up perfectly. It didn’t cost very much — just a couple of bucks — but I was exhausted by the time I got out of there.

That was before I was worried about our plastic consumption. I really liked the finished journal, but as my awareness grew, so did my desire to find a solution that was more earth-friendly.

Cruising through the stationary store one fine day, I saw a couple of what I assume were meant as key rings in a box, and I knew I had my answer. Drill a couple of holes through the paper, clip on the rings, boom! How hard could it be?

Turns out not very hard, and I didn’t even manage to screw it up (I know, I was surprised too), although I did need Eric’s help. And he’s way more careful than I am when it comes to projects.

Incidentally, this is the same journal I used to zero waste my recipe collection, which was going very well until I lost it. Uh, so there’s that. But I still think this is an easy way to bind something, and the rings make it a little easier to turn the pages — which are twice as thick as regular pages, what with being folded in half. AND they’re reusable! I’d like to find another set of rings (the stationary store no longer carries them, new owner) so I can make a field journal for work. Bonus: Not having to order a new notebook AND completely using up the sheets before tossing them in the recycling bin.

Enough words, it’s time for photos:

Fold the paper in half!

Make sure the folded pages are all facing the same way, like ends together.

Cute little bulk metal rings are just the thing for keeping the pages together.

I got out Eric’s hammer and a nail and commenced with much pounding. I got smart and clipped the pages together first to keep them from slipping around.

It didn’t exactly go well, but some progress was clearly being made.

Pages secured by one of the rings! Rats, I have to do the other now ...

That’s when my darling favorite husband came down and was like, how about we just use the drill? And I was all like, huh, that might work, I guess …

Um, that went much faster. He also drilled my first, nail-produced hole.

And then I jimmy-rigged a cover (made out of my cousin Seth’s wedding announcement, washi tape and some stickers I’d been sitting on since my scrapbook days) so I’d know where the thing started. I don’t know, for some reason I thought that was important.

I suppose a hole punch would also work, should you have one around (we do not) or don’t appreciate the struggle (or power tools, I guess). It really does make a decent notebook, and I like that I can take pages out and rearrange them if I need to. (I really need to find mine … or make another one.)

Bonus Story:

Look what Johanna and I found during our last grocery trip!

BULK MANDARINS. I have never, ever seen this before at our grocery store!

To say I was excited was an understatement. I’ve been looking longingly at the displays of packaged mandarins for months now, but have held strong. I really felt like I was being rewarded for good behavior. And they’re delicious.

Next up: I’ve finally figured out my makeup situation. Well, mostly.