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How to join sheets of paper most effectively without staples or tape
December 1, 2008 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone help me save the planet one staple at a time?

I sell a lot of stamps online, and in trying to reduce the footprint of this exercise (by using clean backs of paper printed on one side, recycled paperboard, etc.) I've been looking for a replacement to tape or staplers.

Yes, I know about the Staple-Free Stapler that, for instance, ThinkGeek sells, and that was previous discussed here on ask.metafilter, but as far as I know it only works on the corners of paper, and its limitation of four-five pages might be overly restrictive. My ideal one, if it exists, would be more traditionally stapler-shaped: be able to reach in and attach as far as the neck would allow. An amazon partner has one that looks like it might work, but the reviews are not very detailed.

I don't know what the technology would be: weaving, crimping, or something more clever I haven't thought of. But I'm handing it over to you.
posted by quarantine to Shopping (13 answers total)
 
Paperclips? They're reusable.
posted by pompomtom at 7:54 PM on December 1, 2008


You could make an origami paper clip with some recycled paper - it's fast...
posted by slightlybewildered at 7:57 PM on December 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


One customer review on Amazon says the doodad doesn't work very well on more than 2 or 3 sheets of paper. What exactly are you trying to attach? It would help if you could describe the kind of packaging/paperwork/container you're trying to create. A cardboard box? Padded envelope? Mailing tube?
posted by Quietgal at 7:59 PM on December 1, 2008


I use these. You can get similar ones at Office Max and such now, but for years I had to smuggle them from Japan. :)
posted by rokusan at 8:03 PM on December 1, 2008


Sorry, clicked too soon: I meant to say I use those (as your example) but they work for about 20 pages. It is true that it can only reach about 2 inches inside the edge, though, like a very small stapler.

I have seen longer-reach ones, though. If a MeFite is near a Tokyu Hands today, maybe they could check for you?
posted by rokusan at 8:05 PM on December 1, 2008


Paper clips really are pretty darn sustainable. I save all the ones that cross my desk and I don't think I've ever had to buy any.
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on December 1, 2008


What about sewing them together with a needle and thread?
posted by platinum at 9:21 PM on December 1, 2008


What about sewing them together with a needle and thread?

That was my thought too - I gather there are stitching based book binding techniques - in fact you can buy binders' thread and needles from art supply stores.

Of course, you'd only be replacing your staples with linen thread, and though it sounds biodegradable and more environmentally friendly I don't know if it actually is.

You could contact a local paper recycling company and ask which binding method they think is best.
posted by Mike1024 at 12:12 AM on December 2, 2008


I suggest a paper punch and coarse biodegradeable string or thread. Tie the bundle together by hand and seal it with wax. Get a special signet ring made for this, and be sure to always wear it and to use it on all of your official documents. Customers will think you are insane, which, in the stamp business, is probably a good thing.

But you would have to be using a very large number of staples for this to make a difference environmentally compared to other things you probably could change. For example, one airline flight is probably worse for the environment than all of the office supplies (including all of the printer paper) that you will ever buy in your lifetime, so I would start by eliminating flights, not staples.
posted by pracowity at 1:08 AM on December 2, 2008


Get a hole punch and some treasury tags.
posted by mandal at 2:02 AM on December 2, 2008


Fold the corner down, now tear a little notch in the folded corner and fold that back the other way. Voila, secured paper, no metal.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:03 AM on December 2, 2008


How many staples do you have to not use in order to make up for buying one new plastic and metal gadget?
posted by jacquilynne at 7:24 AM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


What exactly are you trying to attach? It would help if you could describe the kind of packaging/paperwork/container you're trying to create. A cardboard box? Padded envelope? Mailing tube? -- Quietgal

Good question. I could have been clearer. I'm folding an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper in half, writing a message on the inside, an address on the outside, sticking the product inside the fold, and sealing it. I have a source of discarded (printing errors) 110lb cardstock that will last me for all eternity, so it's a pretty sturdy envelope. I'm essentially trying to do a self-mailer or Netflix-style thing. A heavy aerogram.

Paperclips? They're reusable. -- pompomtom
Paper clips really are pretty darn sustainable. -- Miko
I suggest a paper punch and coarse biodegradeable string or thread. -- pracowity
Get a hole punch and some treasury tags. -- mandal

The profit margin in online stamp sales is very near zero, and all of these suggestions, while very good, subject a letter to a $0.20 nonmachinable surcharge.

Fold the corner down, now tear a little notch in the folded corner and fold that back the other way. Voila, secured paper, no metal. -- Pollomacho

Sorry, I'm not visualizing this.

You could make an origami paper clip with some recycled paper - it's fast... -- slightlybewildered

OK, that's rad. Fixes the corner problem, but not the edge problem.

But you would have to be using a very large number of staples for this to make a difference environmentally compared to other things you probably could change. For example, one airline flight is probably worse for the environment than all of the office supplies (including all of the printer paper) that you will ever buy in your lifetime, so I would start by eliminating flights, not staples. -- pracowity

Yeah, done. Also: sold my car; stopped eating in restaurants; recycle everything I can; get everything freecycled, secondhand, or from dumpster diving; food from farmers' markets and discards; walk everywhere; plant trees; switched to vegan diet; ad nauseum. I may be crazy, but I'm pretty consistently crazy. I bought some ponytail elastics today, new from a store (didn't want lice), and it actually made me wince, like it does with deodorant and toothbrushes and stuff.

How many staples do you have to not use in order to make up for buying one new plastic and metal gadget? -- jacquilynne

Best question so far.

What about sewing them together with a needle and thread? -- platinum, followed up by Mike1024

When I hit "Submit", I thought, "Hey, sewing machine!" Cotton or linen thread is absolutely more sustainable. But I gave my secondhand sewing machine back to Goodwill in April, so I'd have to get a new one. Tempted to mark this "Best Answer", but I'd like to field a few more comments. How about a bead of adhesive? No idea of the impact of such things.
posted by quarantine at 2:44 PM on December 2, 2008


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