Envelope recycling has caused many people real problems, with some local authorities deciding that stamps, gummed edges and the dreaded plastic windows means that envelopes are not suitable material for recycling plants - some of the stories I have read about these problems are quite ridiculous and frustrating. After reading about this problem I decided to investigate a much better way of dealing with the problem of old, unwanted envelopes - REUSE them.
It is often forgotten that recycling is lower down the waste management hierarchy than reusing and luckily there are a number of organizations that have supplied us with a solution to this. To help people resolve this issue I have created this lens which contains a list of envelope recycling label suppliers.
Most of the suppliers that are listed below are registered charities or campaign groups so that there is the added bonus that you can help one of your favorite causes at the same time as helping the environment when you use these products.
Are You Reducing, Reusing And Recycling? Let Us Know Here
An Interesting Book To Help With Household Waste Management
Sticky Envelope Address Labels - What A Great, Green Idea
A few friends of mine introduced me to this idea, which is quite incorrectly referred to as envelope recycling labeling by some, when in fact it is actually envelope reusing, which is a far better thing to be doing anyway.
The idea is just to stick a new label over the old address or plastic window, write on the new address and use tape to close the envelope and use it again! It really could not be simpler thing to do.
I think that this is a great idea which is easy to do. There is no need to waste energy processing the paper for recycling, just use it again, and again, and again. I guess, however, there is a point at which the envelope eventually becomes unusable as it wears thin; it would be fun to see how many times one can be reused before it finally disintegrates and has to be thrown away.
A List Of Suppliers Of Address Labels For Reusing Envelopes
The great thing about these labels is that many charities and worthy causes supply them, just choose your favorite cause and buy!
Here is a list of suppliers:
World Wildlife Fund; 50 labels for Â£4.50
Recycled Paper Supplies; A pack of 50 for Â£2.75
Trees for Life; 100 labels for Â£3.50
British Trust for Conservation Volunteers; 50 labels for Â£1.20
Barn Owl Trust; 50 labels for Â£1.40
Common Ground; A pack of 100 for Â£3.50 (Â£4.50 outside UK)
Progressive Resources Catalog; 100 labels for $4 US
Irish Peatland Conservation Council; 50 labels for 5 Euros
Spokes - The Lothian Cycle Campaign; 120 labels for Â£3
The Land Is Ours; 100 labels for Â£3.75
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (NZ); 100 labels for $5 NZ
Ecotopia; 50 labels for Â£1.99
Ecocentric; 100 labels for Â£4.50
Envelope Angel; 100 labels in dispensing box for Â£4.95
Green Metropolis; 50 labels for Â£1.75
StopJunkMail.org.uk; 50 labels for Â£2
Sumatran Orang Utan Society; 25 labels for Â£2.99
The Green Sationary Company; 100 labels for Â£2.95
Rabbit Welfare; 100 labels for Â£3.75
Surfers Against Sewage; 50 labels for Â£3.92
Animal Aid; 100 labels for Â£3.25
Cornwall Wildlife Trust; 50 labels for Â£3.50
Here Are Some More Ways To Reuse Your Old Envelopes
If you don't want to order any of the sticky labels above then here is a list of alternative ways to get some more life out of your waste envelopes. I hope these are some ideas that you can use and if you have anything to add to this list please let me know at the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Shopping Lists - This is one of the simplest and quickest methods of reusing your old and unwanted envelopes. Just write down your shopping list on the back of them and stick them in your pocket so that you can remember what you need to buy; my wife always does this.
Use as Bookmarks
Instead of buying laminated bookmarks just stick an old envelope in the right page. This has the advantage of not creating an upset when it gets lost or ripped and saving you money. I am always doing this, mainly because I keep losing my real bookmarks.
Use for Storage
You can keep small, easily lost items in old envelopes; the dry environment the paper creates makes them good for storing seeds to be planted next year or any other small object that needs to be kept dry.
Make Pet Bedding
Use only the unglued parts of old envelopes to avoid any toxins that could be within them, then just shred them and pet bedding is the result. I used to use old shredded paper for gerbil bedding when I was young and they loved it.
Remove any plastic windows, shred the envelopes and then compost them: this would be a great idea for those envelopes that have been used so many times that they are now useless for anything else. Using the compost to grow vegetables would be an excellent option.
You can just cut out the parts of the old envelopes that have no writing on them and staple them together to make an instant notepad.
Tape underneath drills to collect dust
If you are doing a little DIY tape an old envelope underneath where you are drilling into a wall and catch the dust. This also means you will not have to use any further electricity by turning on the vacuum cleaner - good for the environment and your electricity bill.
Recycled Paper - Reduce Your Impact On The Environment
Most Of Our Envelopes Arrive In Our Mailbox Carrying Junk Mail
I hardly ever write letters any more, these days I just send a text message or an email to the people I wish to communicate with. I can remember traveling around the world in the 1990s and collecting letters from friends and family from Post Restante and American Express offices - it seems like a completely different era considering how we keep in touch these days, everything just goes straight onto Facebook now, I had to wait weeks to find out what was going on.
Nowadays the only letters I seem to receive are bills and copious amounts of junk mail; neither of them are welcome.
With such a large amount of natural resources going into junk mail, environmentally-minded people will want to reuse these envelopes and these products are a great way of doing that. Even better is to reduce the amount of wasteful and annoying junk mail that you receive. This page deals with that issue - How to Stop Receiving Junk Mail.
The Waste Management Hierarchy - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Much is made of recycling, it is a word that is used often by the media and merchandisers as something that is a great way for us to have a positive impact on the environment. However, this activity is actually the third item on the list of things to do in the Waste Management Hierarchy and therefore the least positive of the the three things listed for us to do - reducing and reusing our waste are far better ways for us to minimize our impact on the environment.
A lot of energy and many resources are used in the process of recycling whereas no further energy is used if you reduce the amount of waste you produce and very little, or no energy, is used when reusing old items.
With these facts in mind it is far better to reuse your old envelopes than send them to a processing plant for recycling.
Learn More About Recycling With These Interesting Websites
- How Can I Recycle This
A website dedicated to asking and answering questions about how to recycle or reuse all sorts of everyday items such as toilet seats, eggs, wallpaper samples etc. You name it and they will tell you what to do with it.
- Recycle Now
This website explains how things are recycled and why it is an important thing for us to do. It also gives advice on how to deal with many specific items and what you can do today to recycle old things that you have lying around, unused at home.
- Recycle More
This website contains help and advice on all aspects of recycling at home, at school and in the workplace. There is also special advice on dealing with electrical items, batteries, light bulbs and other household items.
Kids Recycling Handbook - Green Ideas For Young Children
What Do You Think Of These Ideas? - Please Leave Your Comments Here
Do you use envelope recycling labels? Do you reuse envelopes in other ways? Does anyone even use envelopes these days? Please leave your comments here.
jeremy piercy on August 31, 2015:
You should add Shared Earth to the list of suppliers of envelope re-use labels - 4 different designs, £2.99 for a pack of 50 (www.sharedearth.co.uk). One says 'Save our bees', the others just have colourful designs. Plus a big variety of recycled products from around the world. I'm the founder of Shared Earth, fair and sustainable trade are its main aims.
TapIn2U on May 28, 2013:
Love your ideas! Never thought about it. Thanks for sharing! Sundae ;-)
nickupton lm (author) on May 22, 2013:
@techskwidly: Good to hear of people reusing old things. It seems like it used to be something that everybody did but now we have become such a throwaway culture.
techskwidly on May 22, 2013:
Really good lens - and plenty more substance to it than the title suggested :-)
We mostly split our envelopes (and leftover mail) between making notepaper, and composting. I find I send so few letters these days - but we do reuse bubble wrap and other packaging all the time, can't remember when I last had to buy a padded mailing bag!
Jogalog on May 21, 2013:
My mum's been reusing envelopes for years. I just put all the paper in the recycling bin.