Giving a Crap About Paper
A little while back I changed my toilet paper options to something that better suited my personal values. First and foremost I was looking for a way to buy my recycled toilet paper plastic free, and secondly I was pretty stoked I could fund sanitation projects in developing countries while wiping my bottom. Double win. The downside? Annoying amounts of toilet paper wrapping. Unfortunately the two companies I have purchased-plastic-packaging-free eco toilet paper through are forced to wrap rolls individually. Sure it looks pretty but the novelty wears off quickly. So rather than commit my TP wrappers to the recycling bin or compost I decided to recycled the paper into new paper. Part experiment in recycling and partly a way to entertain my ten year old BFF who lives in my neighbourhood and likes to craft. The result was lots of fun and some notebooks.
The Recycled Paper Process
For this fun recycling process I used a recycled paper kit that I purchased for $3 from my local landfill recycling market. You could probably make a kit yourself by using a photo frames (please note that the frames will get wet and may warp over time and you will have to get two that fit together one as a deckle and the other as the draining screen) or buy some timber to make your own from scratch, two types of mesh, one lightweight (like a shade cloth mesh) and one sold metal one to use as the basis of your draining screen, a sponge, and something smooth and non-stick to dry your paper on (you would have to experiment with this). There is an intractable you can follow here. If this all sounds to hard buy a kit like the one I own here.
- First up I took all my toilet paper wrappers and cut them into tiny pieces using scissors. It says in the instructions to rip the paper up but I decided to work smart not hard. The smaller you can get it the better
- Soaking the paper is the second step. Mine was left to soak for around 24 hours in six cups of water. Apparently the longer the better (especially for glossy paper) as it softens the pulp. The instructions say overnight. I wasn’t in a hurry for mine so 24 hours worked.
- After soaking I stuck all the soggy paper in the food processor with the beater attachment covered it with 7cm of water and made a ‘paper porridge’ beating the mix until it was smooth.
- As I wasn’t making paper that day I drained the water out and stored the squishy ball of pulp in the fridge until my friend was free to make paper with me.
- To make the paper we put 10cm of water in a large tub, added a couple of handfuls of paper to the water in the tub, and used the draining screen with the fine mesh and deckle on top as a sieve by dipping it, deckle side up, into the tub and scooping up the paper. Gently draining the water through with a light side to side shake before removing the deckle and picking up the pulp covered fine mesh onto the drying board or surface.
- We then used the sponge to gently remove excess water. We found that holding the board on a slight angle while sponging helped with drainage. Once satisfied that water is removed, lift the mesh screen and put the drying board with wet paper in a warm place to dry out.
- Once paper is dried (we left ours overnight on a clothes airer in a warm part of the house) carefully lift the paper off the drying board and suddenly your toilet paper wrappers have a new lease on life!
Making a recycled note book.
This next bit can be used for any paper you wish to reuse. You could use pretty gift wrap, or a favourite image from a magazine (Frankie, Peppermint, and Yen all have beautiful images for up cycling) as the cover. The best inside pages are office print outs (or plain white office paper). Especially those ones that are the result of those annoying over prints, where you end up with one printed page with a single web address on the top, or one or two lines of text. These work well as you have loads of blank paper, so you can cut the unwanted printed material off and use those offcuts for your next recycled paper making project (nothing wasted). All you have to do is fold the paper in half to your required size (ours is a little less than A4 as we cut the rough edges off our recycled paper cover), punch some holes in it, and thread some jute string through to secure the pages. I am using an old ticket punch that belonged to Ged’s dad when Bus drivers used to punch bus tickets, it can punch though lots more pages than the regular office hole punch. Too many pages for your hole punch? Simply place your sting down on the table vertical, lay the pages flat with the fold line aligning with the string, and tie the string in a bow on the front cover. These note books could be torn up and made into a new notebook when you fill them. They are fun projects for kids (much cheaper than a trip to Smiggle) and make for nice gifts (you could even fill them with your favourite quotes and add them as a little extra in a greeting card).