Reuse junk mail for envelopes

Filed in Reuse by on June 7, 2009 14 Comments
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Reuse junk mail in creative ways

Reuse junk mail in creative ways

Some junk mail is really pretty. Marketing companies use glossy paper and bright inks to attract our attention, as they know that eye candy is a big part of selling.

In the past, I’ve used junk mail, newspapers and leaflets as wrapping paper. It can look great if you manage to choose an image that is suitable for the recipient. On one particular occasion, I managed to find a lovely picture of a place Mr Green and I had been on holiday which really added to the excitement of his present.

Robert, over at the Stop Junk Mail campaign, and creator of Junkbuster, has been busy with his junk mail too. He’s been fashioning it into unique, handmade envelopes for reuse!

We all know that stopping at source is the best option (Reduce), but for those pesky items that still find their way through your letterbox, Reuse is the next best, before finally, recycling it.

A set of five envelopes, randomly picked by Robert costs £1. While you’re there, you can grab some letterbox stickers and envelope reuse stickers too!

Do you reuse your junk mail or do you recycle it?


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (14)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    My attitude to junk mail is to provide full circle transfer of the plastic window envelope waste. Using sae’s gratefully provided by many of the culprits, I simply return to sender all the waste for their attention. They are blazee about sending the rubbish to us, we can be equally as blazee in sending it back.

    The remaining paper and letters from the rest of the envelopes is recycled. I do collect return mail envelopes for RTS use and feel that if we all did this the situation would change overnight.

    An alternative would be to use home compostable plastic windows. This would be satisfactory for the mail we need to receive from official/business sources.

  2. Robert says:

    It’s a shame indeed to just recycle junk mail. In particular catalogues are often very suitable for making junk mail envelopes; good quality paper and often very colourful indeed. As unsolicited advertisements I find them unappealing, but as envelopes they suddenly look very pretty. And, they’re fairly easy to make. It’s time consuming but quite therapeutic and rewarding.

    For inspiration I’ve just uploaded 60 images of the junk mail envelopes I made to the stop junk mail blog:

    Enjoy, keep up the good work!

  3. Layla says:

    Interesting idea!! 🙂

    We get almost zero junk mail now that we’ve got our sticker on! it still might come handy for the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years..

    Is the idea to just put a sticker with name&address on them, or just write on the junk mail envelope itself? (where possible)

  4. Poppy says:

    I would say that it depends how ‘busy’ the envelope is. If there is a clearly defined blank space to write in, then write on the envelope, if there isn’t, then you need a sticker.

    I remember doing these years ago …. a Blue Peter project if I remember correctly 🙂

  5. Layla says:

    Thanks Poppy, I sort of agree!! 🙂

    I do wonder how easily recyclable the envelopes are, with extra glue etc? probably depends on what is used as glue-?

    glossy magazines aren’t most easily recycled anyway, it would be good to get some expert info & opinion!! (or studies? :))

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, do you find the companies then stop sending you junk and have you ever actually had a response from anyone about this?

    @Robert: Great images Robert – I hope the envelopes are popular with your customers!

    @Layla: Great to hear that your sticker is working so well, Layla. Adding a sticker to write the address isn’t perfect; but it’s probably better than dumping the paper in the landfill.

    @Poppy: Poppy, it would be great to design some with that perfect white space for writing on wouldn’t it? Perhaps it is time for you to revisit your youth and get designing 😉

  7. John Costigane says:

    HI Mrs Green,

    My attitude is simply to collect the cleaned envelope windows and place in a suitable return SAE. The same bank credit card offers, totally unwanted, seem to come back. That just provokes my standard response. Some banks have desisted but all banks should get the message. Similarly with car insurance offers.

    All these promotions are sent out without regard to the waste consequences. I return the waste windows to them to show them the end-product of their activity. The penny will eventually drop and the more people join-in, the quicker the resolution.

  8. Hazel says:

    I’ve been making envelopes for a couple of years, since a local eco charity showed my Rainbow Unit how to make them from magazine pages. They’re very simple- just folding and a bit of glue, no cutting out templates.
    Eldest DD and I have made loads since then- comics make good birthday ones for childrens friends, so eldests friends get kittens, DS’s friends get Dr Who and DD2 gives out Princess envelopes! I use old maps and magazines- gardening or Country Living magazines have lovely whole page pictures.
    I’ve only ever had one less than positive comment, and that was from another mother rather than the recipients mother (who knows me very well, LOL!) who asked if I’d run out of wrapping paper! The present (Outdoor-y stuff) was wrapped in an old road atlas, showing an area of countryside they love, tied with green wool and the card (a piece of same road atlas with foot and paw prints across it) was in an envelope made from- you guessed- road atlas! I thought it was rather brilliantly coordinated myself :0)
    I haven’t bought envelopes for years.

    My worst junk mail experience has been with American Express. I’ve never been a customer but still got mail drops and it’s just been a nightmare to stop. I’ve sent it back in various forms and with messages that became increasingly blunt, but it got to be a point of principle in the end. I haven’t had any for a few months, so hopefully the last irate phone call did the trick!


  9. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Do you know that companies in the UK are legally obliged to stop sending you stuff if you call them? Shit might be worth knowing to step up your campaign a little.

    @Hazel: Hi Hazel; good to see you and thank you for your comment.. I think the idea of comics for envelopes is wonderful! and old maps are a great idea too. There must be a lot of those around now with GPS systems becoming more popular.
    Let’s hope American express get the message. I remember getting bombarded with stuff from one credit card company in my daughter’s name – she was 18 months at the time. I got so fed up of it I applied for one for her – they soon realised the error of their ways when they checked her birthdate and I never received anything again 😉

  10. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    This is just an occasional occurrence nowadays and I quite enjoy doing a full-cycle with the plastic waste to let the receivers find out about producer responsibility, which will probably be a future requirement. I have contacted various companies the way you suggest but this is not an absolute guarantee of success. Some companies lack the competency to adapt practices.

    Of course junk mail is recyclable, but you just wonder about the processing involved. If it is a wet process paper fibre will be lost in a sludge, which is unusable. I looked into commingled at mrfs, clean, dirty and wet type of treatment there. There seems to be many problems with glass and paper, and non-recyclables like blister packs.

  11. Poppy says:

    I had 2 backward steps this week that left me quietly fumming!

    First one was on our return from Paignton, there was a Studio Cards catalogue! You may remember that I *did* contact them previously to request that they never darken my doorstep again! Well I’ve done it all over again. Poor fool on the other end started to ask me for all sorts of details and got the sharp end of my tongue! DH has also requested that they no longer send anything in his name, so let’s see if they have listened this time.

    Second was a white pages phone directory! Aaaaarrrgghhh!!! Sadly, I wasn’t dressed at the time it was delivered or I would have been straight out to tell the deliverer what to do with it – in the nicest possible way of course 😉 It has now been stripped and all components recycled, but I would far rather it wasn’t delivered in the first place 🙁

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: I can’t believe that Freudian slip I made with my last comment to you. I meant to say ‘It’ and wrote ‘shit’ – must have been all that cursing about junk mail going through my head at the time LOL!
    Forgive me; I didn’t mean to swear at you 😀

    @Poppy: Eek about Studio cards! Let’s hope they get the message this time. The phone directories are a nightmare; I wonder if they ever stop getting delivered as there are no addresses on them,
    What a bummer of a week; at least it didn’t all happen during zero waste week eh? 😉

  13. Oh Mrs G – I am now rolling on the floor in stitches at the old Freudian slip. I was intrigued and am glad I looked in. A classic. LOL K xxx 😀

  14. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: Typos etc are standard on the web. I speak from bad posting experience.

    Further on commingled, previously co-mingled, a friend phoned and the subject of recycling arose, as if by chance, not. With the talk of faults with the one-bin system, he stated that a separate glass bottle collection box was provided dealing with the biggest input problem for mrfs. I did envy the wide range of plastic items recycled compared to my plastic bottles only setup.

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