How to reuse and recycle calendars

Filed in Blog, Reuse by on February 8, 2011 26 Comments
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Creative ways to reuse your calendar

Creative ways to reuse your calendar

Can you believe we’re well into February already?

It’s been a whirlwind year for us. At the beginning of the year I didn’t make new years resolutions, but decided on a word to infuse the year with.

The word was ‘balance’.

I can safely say that ‘balance’ has not figured very highly here at zero waste towers since the story of our one carrier bag of waste for the year hit the press! Our story has been featured in Italy, Brazil, Portugal, Checoslovakia, Latvia and India and we were interviewed last week by a German journalist…

Not that I’m complaining you understand πŸ˜‰

If you’ve been decluttering then you’ve probably come across one or two 2010 calenders that need recycling. I don’t know about you, but I find I get quite attached to my calenders and diaries; especially ones with great photos or meaningful quotes, so putting them in the paper recycling bin is quite a wrench. I’ve been looking into some reuse ideas and I’d love to hear yours!


For the ultimate in zero waste frugality check out When Can I Reuse This Calendar. The site does what it says on the tin – you type in the year calender you have and the site will tell you when the dates and days will match up again! Apparently, if you hang on to your 2010 calender until 2021, you can dig it out and reuse it!

Wall art

As I mentioned, some calendars have beautiful photos on them. Save your favourites, cut them out, pop them in a frame and voila – cheap wall art.


Is it only me that loves the feeling of a pen gliding over glossy paper? If you’re stuck for recycling ideas, at least cut your calender into strips and write your shopping lists on the back. It will be a sensual delight every time you need to buy something new πŸ˜‰


You can make small gifts out of calender photographs such as book marks, gift tags or cards – how you use the photos depends on the size of the images.

I know you’re all champing at the bit to share your wonderful ideas; tell me in the comments below!

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 (26)

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  1. Jo says:

    The page-a-day desk calenders with tear-away pages are even easier to turn into scratch paper for your daily to-do lists or shopping lists (they’re blank on one side).

    Great link for reusing your calendar! For instance, I see that you can re-use a 2005 calendar in 2011. So sometimes you don’t need to wait as long for one to be reusable again.

  2. Remember the cloth calendars meant to be hung on the wall and used as a dish towel thereafter? That was frugal! I have the 1971 cloth calendar that was reusable in 2010 and again in 2021. I think I wrote an article about this reuse for an online magazine that asked me to write articles. Hopefully, someday, it will be up and running. I think cloth calendars are cool! They can certainly have a long, useful life after the year is over.

  3. Hazel says:

    I turn the photos from calendars into envelopes.

    Really simple- I turn in the edges of the picture about a fingers width, fold up the bottom 1/3 approximately- until it ‘looks’ right/fits what you want put in it and glue the folded edges together. This gives you a pocket and you can fold the top down as a flap . Fold in and glue the corners of the top for a pointed flap.
    The Wintery pictures make good envelopes for homemade Christmas cards. I do the same thing with nice magazine pictures or pages from newspaper supplements, or even catalogues. The ones that you get at Christmas time often have pages of Christmas trees and rooms with little writing. Sometimes, especially on calendars as the photo is not very deep, the top flap has to be quite shallow to make the pouch part deep enough.

    I’ve found this Youtube clip of Amy Karol doing what I tried to explain; it may be a bit clearer after watching the clip! She uses tape, I try not to, but sometimes I have to use some (I try to buy Sellotape rather than the plastic stuff).

    My children love making these and we have a stash for any occasion! I got some gardening magazines on Freecycle which had lovely whole page photos, suitable for Easter and Grannies! Teachers and Scouters/Guiders always know which is my envelope when paying for trips etc!

  4. Sian says:

    How about doing the pictures into postcard? That way you can just pop a little note in the post to that friend you need a word of encouragement. Sometimes it si nice to receive something int he post that is not a bill.

    That way you have had the blessing of the picture and or words and you are blessing someone Else’s day as well. All post cards that we receive I stick up in the down stairs loo with blue tack instant wall art!

  5. Sooz says:

    I liked my 2010 calendar so much I made new blank date sections to stick on so I could use it all over again!!!

    • Ellie Brewer says:

      Hi, a decade since you posted your comment and I sadly can’t follow the link – if possible (you still have it?!) could you send me your template because I have a 2020 one which I would love to reuse – thanks!

  6. Sandie says:

    Great post ….. You’ve really got me thinking now:

    * At Christmas time, cut the calendar pictures into strips and make into paper chains. Staples work better than glue.

    * Use as wrapping paper for small presents at any time of year.

    * Cut the individual pictures up into odd shapes to create a jigsaw puzzle. My kids love to glue stick them back onto a piece of paper to re-make the complete picture.

    * Make the pictures into gift boxes

    * Use for origami – Make an origami crane

  7. Hi Mrs Green,
    I have an organiser that hangs on the wall that holds pens and notebook and also has a pocket for letters etc. I use google calendar to keep track of all my appointments, birthdays and dinner menu which is set for three weeks then repeats. I can print out the page for the rest of the family to see. On the bottom of the organiser is a pair of clip to which I attach my calendar page.
    The good part of this is that because all of the details stay in my google calendar indefinitely I can look back through the years to pin point when things happened if I feel the need. Plus the birthdays, anniversaries etc are set to repeat each year. I can print the page on used paper or like you said use the paper as note paper once the month is up.

  8. Janet says:

    I have a perpetual calendar hanging on my kitchen wall, no getting rid of last years, and no waste.

  9. Julie Day says:

    I have never thought about reusing it for lists and that. Maybe I can do that next year with this year’s calendar. I have recycled lots of diaries though which I can’t use like that. Have kept organisers though which have blank pages in that I use for book lists to buy.

  10. Fabby post Mrs Green πŸ™‚ We cut out the pics from 2010 calendar to make greetings postcards for all of our friends in foreign climes (it was a Scotsman calendar with beautiful pics of Scotland) and I’m still using 2009’s pics in my dreamboards this year!

    Many of the calendars come with quite decent sized thumbnails of all the images on the back of them – so you can use these too – more bang for your buck πŸ™‚ I’ve got a stash of 2008’s thumbnails still in action!

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @Jo: Hi Jo; yep, some calendars are easier to reuse for sure. Glad you like the nifty widget for discovering when to reuse your calendar!

    @Practical Parsimony: Oh I remember those; not very good if you like to write ‘to dos’ on your calendar though LOL!

    @Hazel: I love the envelope idea. I had a go at doing it once, not particularly successfully; but I’ll watch the You Tube later and see if I can improve my skills – thanks!

    @Sian: Love the idea of sending some love in the post; lovely!

    @Sooz: That’s brilliant Sooz – thanks for sharing your innovative idea!

    @Sandie: Hi Sandie; I’m a big fan of origami; I remember doing a lot of it as a child. Thanks for sharing all your lovely ideas.

    @Colleen ( Colleen, you sound SO organised! I always like the idea of an online calendar but it just doesn’t work for me – I need paper and pen lists which I can cross off. Have you tried Teux Deux? That was the nearest I got to online success.

    @Janet: Great stuff Janet – you win our award for least wasteful calendar!

    @Julie Day: Glad you were inspired for next year Julie!

    @Julie Gibbons: What a great idea to share photos with friends in other countries and I love the dreamboards too. I’d never thought about using the thumbnails too; I bet you can create some lovely things with those.

  12. Attila says:

    You could use large calender pictures as place mats, either on the table or on the floor for pet dishes.
    If the other side is blank, calendar paper is good for patchwork; the paper that you tack fabric to for hand piecing. It’s strong enough to use over and over again.

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @Attila: I’m assuming you would need to laminate a calendar before using it as a placemat would you?

  14. Similarly to many of your readers, I used the images for all sorts of creative purposes.

    I am loving the envelope idea, I already make my own envelopes out of maps and other papers but didnt think of using catalouges, calenders, magazines etc… but now i have a very simple outlet for these items! Thanks Hazel!

    If your calender is spiral bound, dont forget to re use the metal spiral bounding!!
    Its quite simple to re use this, Using the existing calender pages as a guide, you could create your own pages. Simply cut out the same shape page, and punch the same number of holes, use a pen and ruler to mark out the days, and either draw, or stick on an image.
    Maybe you could use some of the lovely art work that Little Miss green has made you, and you are finding it hard to part with, as the monthly images?
    Oh the creative possibilities are endless πŸ˜‰

  15. Attila says:

    @Mrs Green: I was thinking of using them for a week or two before recycling. I’m not keen on laminating because how do you recycle it? Most calendars have shiny paper pages that would wipe clean at least a few times.

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @Michelle Morgan: Maps is a lovely material for making envelopes – imagine being able to match it with the recipient’s favourite place! Loving your idea for reusing the spirals with artwork – I never know what to do with those, but you’ve shown me patience is the key (not something I am abundant in!)

    @Attila: Oh, ok I’m with you – great idea. It’s a job with laminating, it’s great and does the job but like you say, what do you do with it afterwards?

  17. Tina says:

    Hello Mrs. Green,
    with the big calendars I make book covers for my childrens schoolbooks, so I save to buy the plastik ones, and it lookes cool, my children like it.

  18. Mrs Green says:

    @Tina: Hi Tina, I bet they look great – original too. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Marlene Holland says:

    As a teacher who doesn’t draw, I’ve used pictures, especially from thematic calendars, to make great bulletin boards. If you aren’t a teacher or don’t know one who wants yours, cut the pictures neatly & deliver to your local school in a bag with the topic on the outside. I assure you someone will be grateful!

  20. Mrs Green says:

    @Marlene Holland: Hi Marlene; I love the idea of bulletin boards; thanks for the inspiration!

  21. Sabrina Gollan says:

    For years ive collected the pictures from the calenders from past years. I like to find pictures of nature,animals, fish,and faraway places. My walls are covered with picturesof Egypt, Greece, and goats with party hats on. Since my mom is into dolphins, ive also taken the pictures from all of her old calenders. My favourite thing to do with the pictures is create a huge collage with them,explaining why i like the pictures on the back with black marker.

  22. Mrs Green says:

    @Sabrina Gollan: Sounds lovely Sabrina; very creative and your own unique wallpaper!

  23. Ah! I love this. I cut them up and use them for cards. But there are only so many pictures. The rest…..I like the idea of using them for cut up grocery lists. Brilliant—as usual!

  24. Mrs Green says:

    @Jennifer Ward-Pelar: thanks for sharing Jennifer; I think card making is rather fun and using the not-so-nice ones for lists is ideal reuse. Simple but effective πŸ˜‰

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