How to Recycle Used Envelopes

Envelopes, especially the type with plastic windows, are usually thrown away, even by many of those who choose to recycle. Used envelopes, however, can be quite useful, so don’t toss them in the trash. Instead, try some of these great ways to recycle or reuse all types of envelopes.

I like to save my envelopes and use them for various things. Blank envelopes that come with your bills can be reused if you pay your bills another way such as online bill paying. I just place a paper sticker over the recipient’s address and write a new address on it. If you do not want to buy sticker labels, just use a little white glue to glue a cut-out square of paper over the address bar. It will still be recyclable.

If you use a letter opener to open your letters across one side or straight across the top, they will have nice straight edges and will be more useful. My favorite use for old envelopes is to write my grocery list on the back of the envelope. I keep my grocery coupons inside the envelope so that I have everything with me when I make a trip to the grocery store.

Envelopes also make great scratch paper. Use a letter opener to open them straight across the top or across one side so that the edges will be neat. I use my scratch paper for leaving notes, writing grocery lists, writing down my “to do today” lists, and also for jotting down ideas.

You can make little note pads from your envelopes as well. Cut your envelopes in half to create smaller rectangles. You can staple small stacks of them together or you can punch a hole in one corner and tie them together with string. Reusing envelopes as scratch paper is doubly good for the environment because once you have used them, you can still recycle them. This prevents you from having to buy scratch paper pads and also ensures that even more trees will be spared by reusing the paper.

Envelopes can be used to organize photographs and small papers. Sort photos by event and place them into individual labeled envelopes in a shoe box. Envelopes can also be used to hold coupons, cash, and old receipts.

If you do not want to reuse your old envelopes, you can still recycle them. Tear the envelopes down the sides and lay them flat. Use scissors to cut out the plastic windows. The plastic windows can’t be recycled, so you’ll have to throw them into the trash, but the envelopes themselves are recyclable and can be put out with the rest of the recyclable paper.

Some envelopes are fully recyclable, even the little clear window. Envelopes that have windows made from a foggy sort of paper can be recycled. These have windows made from rice paper or starch paper. You don’t have to cut the window out before dropping it in the recycle bin. Look on the back of the envelope and it should have in small text whether or not the entire envelope is recyclable.

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