DIY Wedding

DIY Wedding

How to Make Three Greeting Cards with Recycled Materials

comments (8) May 5th, 2009     

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leethal Lee Meredith, contributor
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Some papers from the recycling bin and scraps of thread can make for an awesome custom card!
You can make recycled paper envelopes from grocery bags.
Some ribbon and a button give this card a super-personal, crafty feel!
Some papers from the recycling bin and scraps of thread can make for an awesome custom card!

Some papers from the recycling bin and scraps of thread can make for an awesome custom card!

Photo: Lee Meredith
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I use recycled materials in my crafting whenever possible and feel happiest when I find ways to use items that would normally get trashed (or thrown in the recycling bin), so I'm happy to show you how to print on grocery bag paper to make greeting cards for this season of celebration! Any normal inkjet printer that can print on 4x6-inch paper will print onto bag paper. Not only is it eco-friendly to reuse your bags, but I also think it looks super cool!

You'll need:

  • Paper grocery bags (one bag makes up to 12 4x6 sheets)
  • Scissors and/or paper cutter
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Inkjet printer
  • Thin cardboard (like cereal boxes) or recycled greeting cards
  • Glue stick or two-sided tape (not necessary for the machine-sewn version)
  • Your choice of decorating materials (thread, embroidery floss, yarn, ribbon, hole punch, needle, buttons, sewing machine, etc.)

I cut my grocery bag paper down to 4x6-inch sheets for printing-I've tried printing on 8.5x11 sheets, but because there are always creases, bends, and imperfections in the recycled paper, the bigger the sheet is, the more chance of it getting offset, bent, or otherwise messed up in the printer. The 4x6 sheets almost always print up fine, as long as you smooth out bends and creases as much as possible.

tin can pot Find more recycling projects:

• How to Recycle Magazines into Jewelry
Make a Simple Recycled Quilt
Turn Metal Cans into Hanging Flower Baskets

Upcycle Your Tin Cans into Stylish Craft Storage

Start by cutting your bags along the corners, so you have two big sheets from the front and back and two narrow sheets from the sides. Most bags are exactly 12 inches across, so if you cut straight along the sides, you should be able to measure and cut right down the middle for two 6-inch strips. Then use your ruler and pencil to measure and mark 4-inch sections-you should have a couple inches left unused, so if one side is more bent/crushed, then don't use that side.


Cut your 4x6-inch sheets very carefully and straight, so they'll feed into your printer without problems.

Once you cut up all your sheets, you'll have a stack of usable recycled paper to print on! If some sheets are extra bent up, you can use an iron to smooth them a bit-just set it high, with no steam, and go over the back (no printing) side until it's smooth. (That won't get rid of creases, but it should make them smooth enough to print on.) Load the sheets into your printer just as you would 4x6 photo paper (make sure the blank sides are facing the right way).

As for what to print, as is the case with normal white paper, photos with lots of detail will not look their best printed on non-photo paper. I recommend printing either graphic images (solid colors, clear lines, no/little shading, or small details) or plain text. In the photo below, you can see part of a regular photo I printed, with a dark blue background color, which came out a bit faded and not very sharp. So, I edited that same photo to inverse it (make it the negative image) and raise the contrast, so it's an almost blank background now. Also, I have a photo printer, so photographic images still print out pretty well even on the brown paper; if you have a non-photo printer, you'll probably want to stick to simple graphic images and text only.


Set your printer settings to 4x6 size, plain paper, to print on the recycled bag paper.

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posted in: paper, recycle, card, cardboard, celebration, envelope, greeting card

Comments (8)

sallywinget writes: wat anice idea ialways thin project as bore bt this help me alot and iam a new user ............ hiii friends
Posted: 7:55 am on November 28th
Lupana writes: This a great idea! I've got a lot of embroidery floss and paper bags stored away. Both printing from the printer or even rubber stamping are great creative ways to send a message! And, it makes it much more personal too! Thank you for sharing! ;)
Posted: 11:54 am on March 28th
clothingeng writes: Such a creative idea! I love to recycle :)
Posted: 6:58 pm on March 25th
0Tree0 writes: I love the envelope idea. I have paper brown bags from Chinese ordering and I always know the right things to keep for later recycling! I have a pen pal and I'm sure she would love this envelope with the origami ones I use.
Posted: 7:34 pm on March 17th
Stile writes: thanks, the tutorial is thorough, and as well as the ideas presented, springboards other ideas for me. Looking forward to making my own cards - much more personal touch.
Posted: 2:17 pm on January 17th
ptquilter writes: Wonderful idea. Only thing I would add is I would take a dry iron to the paper to make it flatter to fit through my printer with more ease. That way it can be printed with any Greeting I can make up.... Wonderful use for that pile of paper bags...
Posted: 9:54 pm on August 12th
littlednme writes: What a great idea! I can't wait to dig threw my recyclables!
Posted: 4:19 am on May 11th
Sweet_Dee writes: Love this idea! The catds are so personal and creative! Good use of old paper!
Posted: 4:29 am on May 6th
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