Crafty Reuse: Making Recycled Books from Trash

Confession time: I am sort of a journal fiend. I feel incomplete leaving the house without some sort of notebook for jotting down ideas. It’s fun to buy a journal, but my inner crafter sometimes wishes I’d get it together to make my very own recycled notebook. Here’s some book-binding inspiration to get you going if you’re feeling the same way!

Inner Pages

Since your inner page size will dictate cover size, you’ll probably want to sort this out first. I love the ecclectic feel of journals with remnant printing on them. If you dig that sort of thing, too, you might look to junk mail, old letters, and last year’s calendar pages to fill your journal. Maybe you’d like to throw in a few pieces of handmade paper to boot? You just need to be able to cut the paper to be about the same size.

If you’re a big fan of a fully blank journal, you can hit up your local office supply store for 100% recycled paper to use instead.

Cover Ideas

Like the journal pictured to the left there, a discarded cereal box makes for a simple, recycled cover solution. If you’re not so into seeing all of that branding, you might try sewing a cover for your journal like the one at the top of this post or gluing a design in fabric scraps. You could also just flip the cardboard over, so your cover is “wrong side out.”

I really like how Matt over at Green Upgrader used mailers from packages he’d received to create a cover for his day planner. It sounds like a great, sturdy solution!

Do you guys have any other recycled cover ideas?


Ellen Baker at Alpha Mom has a great tutorial for making a cereal box journal that includes a simple, DIY binding technique. No special book binding tools required!

If you want to get really back to basics, you can use staples or your sewing machine to bind your journal! Just cut your sheets to the width of two pages, and cut your cover the same, adding 1/4″ – 1/2″. So, if you want your journal to be 8 1/2″ by 5 1/2″, you’ll need your inner pages to be 8 1/2″ x 11″ and your cover to be around 9x 11 1/2″. Just fold the pages and cover in half (don’t fold them all at once….do one at a time so they’re uniform), and either staple or stitch up the seam. If you use your sewing machine, make sure to set your stitch length to be quite long, or you’ll just end up perforating the paper which is no good.

Once your journal is all bound, you’re ready to jot down ideas or toss it in your bag for when inspiration strikes! Maybe you’d even like to make a felt journal cozy to protect your creation!

Have you guys made any recycled journals? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Image Credits:
Sewn Journal. Creative Commons photo by pipdiddly
Cereal Box Journal. Creative Commons photo by adinges

Written by Becky Striepe

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .


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