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How to Make Recycled Paper

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Create Your Own Recycled Paper 

Looking for a way to teach your students about recycling that goes beyond just using recycled paper? Why not make your own? A simple, inexpensive exercise, making homemade recycled paper is a great way to bring the topic to life in a fun, hands-on way. By gaining an understanding of the process and learning why it’s valuable, kids will have a better appreciation for why you insist on stocking your classroom with recycled paper. Plus, it’s simple and inexpensive. Follow the steps below and get your students ready to make their own paper. 

1. Collect paper 

A few weeks before you plan to start the project, ask students to begin collecting newspaper, copy paper, and any other scrap paper that’s been discarded. Having them bring the paper in from home will give them a sense of ownership of the project and will also help build enthusiasm in the preceding weeks. 

2. Tear and fill 

Once you’ve collected paper from the students, the next step is to tear or cut it into pieces. Small squares measuring approximately 1-by-1 inch are ideal. Once it’s cut, place the paper squares into buckets and pour warm water over them. Allow this paper and water combination to sit for at least 24 hours. 

3. Mix 

After a day or so, drain excess water from the buckets. Have the students use their hands to massage the mixture into a pulp, or pour it into a blender to mix it. The consistency should be similar to mashed potatoes. 

4. Pour and dry 

Nail screening material to wooden frames (it’s best to have these prepared prior to beginning the project) and pour the pulp mixture onto the screens letting the excess water drip into a basin or cooking sheets placed underneath. Gently tap a sponge on the underside of the screen and wring it out frequently. Once the screen is thoroughly coated, turn it paper-side down onto old towels or newspapers and allow it to dry for at least 24 hours. 

5. Peel and use 

Once it’s thoroughly dried, simply peel your handmade recycled paper off the screen and use. You may consider placing the newly made paper between two pieces of newspaper and ironing to flatten it out. 

While this handmade creation will certainly not match the quality of the store-bought recycled copy paper you have at school, it’s great for homemade greeting cards and other crafts. Plus, students will take pride in knowing they’ve made it themselves and will have a real-life example of reducing their carbon footprint.

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