Recycled Material Composition Book




About: I am a Marine and a student studying Mechatronics Engineering.

As a college student studying engineering, I burn through a lot of paper. A whole ream of the stuff would be used up entirely on a fairly regular basis because of the nature of my homework, and the amount of diagrams they involve. To cut back on the amount of paper I use, I began to use scrap paper from the miss-prints. The problem was, though, that papers from different subjects would get loose and mix with one another, usually resulting in an important section of notes going missing for quite some time. I needed a way to bind my scratch paper into a notebook, and I wanted to do it in a fairly green way.

Here's my solution. This notebook is made from and bound with recycled materials. The cardboard covers and scratch paper are being given a new life, and staying out of the trash while I am using less paper.

Making one of these notebooks takes about 45 minutes. I usually make one while on the phone each night, as you can still concentrate on other things while making one. The composition books that this will be replacing cost only a dollar or two, so this is more about recycling rather than saving vast amounts of money. As an added plus, you can get some pretty cool designs of your covers, depending on the boxes you use, or you can have the plain side out and decorate it yourself.

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Step 1: Material You Will Need

Materials you will need are
-used paper. My school has a lot of computer and graphics labs, and each of them has a recycling bin for miss prints. This gives me a pretty ample amount of the stuff.
-a cardboard box. I prefer to use the flat kind, rather than the corrugated kind. Cereal boxes, the boxes for 24 packs of soda, most microwavable dinners, etc. will do. My room mates eat a lot of that kind of stuff, so I have a good supply in our personal recycling bins.
-thread. I use carpet thread because it is pretty robust stuff. You can use regular thread, but I would double it up to be safe.
-a ruler. We will be measuring the places for our holes to be punched.
-a thumb tack. This will be used as a punch to make our treading holes.
-an x-acto knife. This will trim down to size our box.
-a writing tool. You will need to mark a few things.
-a board to bear down on. We don't want to mess up any tables punching hols or cutting, do we?
-duct tape. Just for good measure.
-a bulldog clip to hold our paper down.

Step 2: Hole Punching

Clip the paper to the cutting board, then draw a line half an inch in from the left margin.

Along this line, mark off every half an inch. Once this is done, get our your tack and push it in on these tick marks. Be sure it goes all the way through.

Heads up: by attempting to punch holes in a lot of paper at once, you will make it fairly difficult. I reccomend you do one of two things. Either get a hammer and drive the tack through the paper (but not into the board! Be careful!) or do multiple groups of smaller amount of paper.

Step 3: The Cover

Now, cut open your box and lay it flat. Find a way to orient the paper to it will be covered by the cardboard when you fold it shut. Once this is done, find the margin where the paper will go, draw a line and half an inch from the parallel line with the spine of the paper, and proceed to make a tick mark on this line every half an inch.

Then go ahead an punch holes on the designated spots just like we did with the paper.

Step 4: Sew It All Together

Get some of your thread, a fairly decent length, and tie a fairly stout knot in it. This is about functionality, aesthetics can come a bit later. :)

Before you sew everything together, decide if you want the box's plain side or decorated side facing out. Once you have your decision made, make sure the OPPOSITE side is facing toward the paper when you state to sew. I prefer mine to be the plain brown, so I can label them, but a more interesting person may just choose to have a Bisquick sponsored notebook.

Feed the thread through one of the holes in the paper stack and directly into the corresponding hole in your notebook cover.

Once you read the top, pull your thread taught by giving each stitch along the binding a gentle tug to pull out the slack. Be sure to look at the last picture for clarity!

Step 5: Tie It Off and Trim

Once you tighten your threads, go ahead and tie it off. Again, just like the other know, functionality beats out aesthetics today. Make your knot big, we don't want this thing to come undone.

After the know has been tied, take your blade of choice and trim the extra over off. I recommend doing the back side first, using the paper's edge as a reference. Then flip the whole thing over so the front is face down and the notebook it closed, and trim it again using the edge of the paper as a guide.

Step 6: Voilà!

There you are! Your very own recycled material composition notebook. You are reducing the amount of paper you use, keeping still usable paper and cardboard out of the trash, and impressing people while you do it. I've made enough of these over the last week of casual production to last me for the next semester.

Also in the pictures is a few shots of one of my legal pad style with cover.

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    14 Discussions


    3 years ago

    might work better to use an awl for the hole punching. I used that and had an old phone book underneath to protect the table.

    I like this Im going to make one and create my instructables with it...dream of one, wake up write it down...sleep


    9 years ago on Step 6

    this is cool mine came out narrow but i  love it even more thanks for putting this up. i really like it and ya your spelling abilities are bad but i can say mine are that great either.


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 1

    Yeah, that stencil is a pretty good way to screen people as to whether or not we can be friends. :)


    10 years ago on Step 1

    Browncoats are everywhere! *woot*
    And like to make shiny things from recyclables. How very cool.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Gah... Thanks. I'm afraid my spelling abilities are limited. I'm studying engineering, so I'm only required to math goodly.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Very helpful 'ible, I really appreciated the recycling of the cardboard from the Bisquick and Coke box, it made me realize how much of the cardboard sitting in my recycling bin could be used for something useful!

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! Yeah, the first few I made had no cover, they were just simply bound paper. The normal wear and tear of my backpack pretty quickly chewed them up real badly, so I realized I needed a cover. The purpose of this was to recycle, so I figured I would take some stuff out of the recycling bin to fit the need.