DIY Crafts Solving the Printables Dilemma

Published on March 22nd, 2014 | by Becky Striepe

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Solving The Printables Dilemma

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Solving the Printables Dilemma

I love printables as much as the next gal. How can we make our printing as eco-friendly as our crafting?

Whether we’re talking labels for green cleaning supplies or templates for baby toys, printables can make our craft projects look more professional. The trouble with printables – and really with printing in general – is that it can be a waste of resources, right?

The main culprits when it comes to reducing the impact of your printables are ink cartridges and paper. Let’s take a look at ways to reduce the impacts of both!

Ink Cartidges – Better Ink, Better Disposal

As you know if you’ve replaced your ink cartridges, every printer uses a different cartridge shape, which can be frustrating. There are companies offering cartridges with low-impact inks, and if you can find one that’s compatible with your printer, this is definitely the best choice.

I’ve also seen kits that allow you to refill old cartridges with new ink, but word of mouth on those doesn’t seem very positive. If you’ve used a refill kit that worked well for you, please tell us about your experience in the comments!

Whether you’re able to use low-impact ink or not, you can also be mindful about disposing of your cartridges. Cartridges Direct recommends sending your empty printer cartridges to the appropriate recycling centers once you have finished with them. This allows them to be manufactured into new cartridges or other products. That means fewer printer cartridges ending up in landfills and less chance of the old ink from the cartridges contaminating groundwater and soil.

Better Paper Options

You’ve really got three choices when it comes to better paper for your printables:

1. reclaimed paper – You can print things like templates and patterns onto the backs of old bill and other standard-size paper from your recycle bin. This is absolutely the lowest-impact choice.

2. recycled paper – Most office supply stores now sell 100% recycled printer paper by the ream. Recycled paper sometimes costs more than virgin paper, so buying a whole ream is a good way to save some money. I bought a ream of FSC-certified paper (see option #3) in 2006, and I’m still working my way through it. It’s a lot of paper and more of an investment up front, but if you’re just doing occasional printables and other printing, it will last for ages.

3. FSC-certified paper – The Forest Stewardship Council certifies paper operations that grow and harvest their trees sustainably. You can read a little bit more about FSC certification at our sister site, Green Living Ideas.

I’d love to hear from my fellow green crafters about this! What are your thoughts on printables? Do you shy away? How do you make your printing as low-impact as your other crafting?

This article was supported by Cartridges Direct.

ink cartridges photo via Shutterstock

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About the Author

Hi there! I'm Becky Striepe, a green crafter and vegan foodie living in Atlanta, Georgia with my husband and two cats. My mission is to make eco-friendly crafts and vegan food accessible to anyone who wants to give them a go. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • Tina

    If you live near a printing company, take a few minutes to stop in and ask what they do with the “outdate” papers they no longer offer their customers. Most of the time, they just toss them. I once got crates full of different colored card stock paper because the printing company no longer wanted to offer those colors/styles. For FREE!

    • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

      What a great idea!

  • Linda from Arizona

    I use a CISS for my printer. No cartridges to throw away or replace. Plus I haven’t had to buy ink for a year! And I print lots of my own cardstock.

    • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

      Oh cool – I’d never heard of a CISS, but now I’m going to look into this!

  • Tuesday

    I love to recycle/reuse items intended for one purpose into something useful when it’s original job is done; it can be challenging at times and sometimes my ‘stash’ gets ahead of me, but all in all I’m happy with my efforts. Where I live doesn’t have a garbage collection service, so everything that comes in is put to some use – even if it’s burning unusable material and putting it in my gardens, even aluminium cans will make a great crumbly mix if it’s burnt often enough with the fallen limbs from the trees on my block of land; the plants thrive on potash.

    But back to printing and paper – I reuse what I can in my paper crafts, but the bulk of it I now make into recycled handmade papers (without all the nasty chemicals). Of course this created it’s own ‘monster’ and I ended up with stacks of handmade paper, mostly ‘dyed’ with flowers and leaves from my gardens, so I’m now learning hand book-binding. This has become a two-fold bonus, as I’m able to continue recycling unwanted papers and I’m also learning a dying art/craft.

    The inks from paper that I’ve printed on actually colours that batch while it’s soaking…so even that is ‘recycled’ in it’s own way.

    So there you have it! Not suited to everyone, I know, but I feel as if I’m “doing my bit” in keeping stuff out of the landfills and extending the usable life of something that isn’t useful in it’s original form.

    As a suggestion for those unwanted papers, and something that a lot more people could actually do, layer papers in amongst plants in gardens. If you wet it first and make a reasonable thickish layer then the weeds won’t be able to come through it. The worms will compost the paper, thus enriching the soil, which in turn is great for your plants and the environment. The paper layer will keep the moisture in the ground far longer, minimising the amount of watering required. And yes, you can even do this in pot plants, just tear the paper up first into smaller pieces, it will still help to maintain the moisture and keep out the weeds, and it gradually breaks down into the soil, enriching it as it goes.

    • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

      So many great ideas here!

  • neeka27

    Search around your town for an ink refill business. I have one in my town that refills each cartridge to XL capacity for $9. I can refill so I don’t have to throw away & I get XL ink which means it will last a lot longer than the ones you can buy at the store. Win Win!

  • MGA

    Thanks for the article. I had the same dilemma since original ink cartridges are too expensive. The refill kit didn’t work for me. I messed it up, and all my desk is full of ink now. Then i start buying cheap inks from Ebay. But this time, they messed up my printer (they were leaking). And then i started ordering from those websites that sells compatible inks. The last one i tried was http://www.compandsave.com. So far so good…

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