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How to Recycle a Used Hardcover Notebook

Sadie Holloway loves to use her blank notebooks as a place to create new cartoon characters for greeting cards and letters to friends.

When you can't bear to throw away an old hardcover journal but you also want to clean up and declutter your life try this DIY upcycling craft project. Mother Nature will say 'Thanks!'


I have an obsession with notebooks and journals. I can't stop collecting them; every time I have a new creative project I want to work on, I feel the urge to go out and buy a new notebook. I've got dozens of them on the go right now. I use some of them for my daily to-do list, some for my home renovations wish list, some for silly doodles...and on and on.

But even though I already have so many journals that I'm scribbling and doodling in, I can't bear the thought of throwing them out when they are all filled up. So, I've decided to try and recycle and re-purpose a few of them.

Supply List:

  • Used spiralbound hardcover notebook. (Make sure the spiral-wiring is in good shape and not bent or twisted.)
  • Double-sided, 3/4 inch wide velcro-tape. You can find this at almost any sewing, craft or dollar store.
  • Sturdy Scissors or a paper trimmer
  • Plastic envelope. Be sure to choose one that is small enough to fit inside the front cover of the notebook.
  • Medium to large bulldog clip
  • Paper from your office recycling bin with printing on one side only. (Don't recycle confidential documents destined for the shredder! You never know where it might end up!)

Step 1

Take a hardcover spiral bound notebook that you are ready to re-use and remove all of the pages by carefully cutting or tearing them out. I am saving the pages of this notebook and filing them away with my daily planner at the end of the year. The used notebook I chose was originally my daily to-do list. The notebook itself was a gift from my husband, and so I didn't want to just toss it in the recycling bin. I wanted to see if I could give it a new life holding my coupons and grocery list scratch pad.

Step 2

To keep the coupons organized, I found a perfectly sized plastic envelope among my stash of office supplies and used velcro tape to fasten it to the inside flap of the notebook. I was going to use a paper envelope at first, but then when I found the plastic envelope, I thought it would be much more durable. Plus, I like that I can see through the envelope without having to open it up to find out what's inside.

If you don't have a plastic envelope, you can use a   paper envelope instead. Instead of using the velcro-tape to affix the envelope, use clear white glue.

If you don't have a plastic envelope, you can use a paper envelope instead. Instead of using the velcro-tape to affix the envelope, use clear white glue.

Step 3

With the plastic envelope secured to the inside cover of the notebook, I pulled some office paper out of my recycling bin to use for the shopping list pad. I folded about a dozen sheets in half, cut them down the middle and trimmed about an inch off the bottom so that the pages would fit inside the notebook. Depending on what you plan to use your notebook for, you can trim the pages roughly by hand or use a paper-cutter if you want the edges to be aligned, all neat and tidy. Since I'm just using this notebook for grocery lists, I'm not too worried about the edges being a bit messy.


Step 4

Fasten your loose pad of paper to the back flap of the notebook with a bulldog clip. And there you have it: a 'new' hardcover folio for a recycled pad of paper.

You can also use this upcycling technique to create a presentation folder or clipboard for speaking notes. A clean, black 9 x 11 art journal with the pages removed and a large clip added to the top of the inside can be used as an impromptu business folio.

© 2017 Sadie Holloway


MarinaLopez on January 22, 2019:

This is a super great idea!! Simple and usefull. Thanks!!

Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on March 23, 2017:

I know the tendency to always get a new notebook as new projects come to mind. I'm constantly seeing notebooks that catch my eye and I end up buying. I like this crafty hub with the good suggestions. An enjoyable read. Thank you. Bob.

Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on March 22, 2017:

I love this idea! I had never thought to reuse the old notebooks once I had finished the paper inside. Now I'm thinking of all types of wonderful things, like turning them into an envelope journal or even a small organiser. I always make a conscious choice when buying a notebook and an usually so disappointed to throw it away- I will definitely keep this in mind. Thank you