10,000 sheets to the wind?
May 23, 2013 9:41 AM   Subscribe

I have approximately 10,000 sheets of 8.5" x 11" paper in a box under my desk. They have printing on one side already, are standard computer paper weights, and are various colors. What are some creative ways I can use them or places to which I could donate them in the Twin Cities (Minnesota)?

I ran a public policy campaign during the just-finished session of the Minnesota legislature. My coalition won on our issue, but now I'm left with close to 10,000 sheets of paper left from the campaign. There are mostly handbills and 1-pagers on canary yellow, bright orange, goldenrod, and white, standard copy/printer paper. They can not be used again for future campaigns, unfortunately.

For the most part, they have semi-partisan and pro-union language and images on the printed side, which may complicate donation to a school or child care center. The other side is blank.

I know I could:
  • throw them in the recycling dumpster, but this seems like a waste
  • use them as scratch/notepad paper (but, really, how many notes am I going to take?)
  • have my kid color/practice letters on them (she already has a ton of recycled office paper at the house to use)
but I'd like to figure out something fun or creative that I, my friends, or my family could do with them or a place to which I could donate them.

Any suggestions you have would be appreciated! Thanks!
posted by elmer benson to Grab Bag (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A school teacher you know may want them. I doubt anyone will care about what's printed on them, besides, public schools are unionized.

I'd have taken it in a heartbeat!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:43 AM on May 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

Origami or paper crane sculpture?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:46 AM on May 23, 2013

This idea of small paper blooms glued to tree branches would be kind of awesome at large scale: Paper Flowers.
posted by smuna at 9:48 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ditto the school idea: more specifically, ask art teachers.
posted by easily confused at 10:02 AM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Craigslist often has countless lists of teachers looking for classroom supplies.
posted by bobdow at 10:06 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I give my paper to my daycare provider: Every day, each toddler gets a toddler report with naptimes and meal notes and stuff (that is about 60 sheets a week). She prints the template sheets on the blank side of my organization's outdated letterhead. She also uses it for coloring as people have mentioned above. She doesn't care that it has Jewish stuff on the reverse or other people's logos.
posted by chelseagirl at 10:07 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Shred it and use it for packing material.
posted by drlith at 10:09 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Slightly more useful than mere scrap paper: make your own tear-off notepads with some padding compound.
posted by ddbeck at 10:14 AM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Can you bind them cheaply and give them away free or sell them at cost to people who would be interested in your cause? My university used to do this with unwanted printouts and it was very popular.
posted by whatzit at 10:14 AM on May 23, 2013

Ever go camping? Roll a bunch of them up, dip them in paraffin, and make firestarters.
posted by tully_monster at 10:15 AM on May 23, 2013

I also run them through the shredder (assuming there's nothing confidential on them) and use them for packing material.
posted by tully_monster at 10:16 AM on May 23, 2013

I would be annoyed if my kids started bringing home scratch paper from school that was clearly political, regardless of whether I agreed with it. And it would be a Fox News "THE INDOCTRINATION OF OUR CHILDREN" kerfluffle waiting to happen. Nth'ing "shred for packing material," and maybe make some celebratory confetti for your office party out of some of it.
posted by Etrigan at 10:20 AM on May 23, 2013

I compost a lot of my waste paper. It adds useful carbon to all of the kitchen waste and grass clippings. But I don't think I'd manage that sort of quantity.

Another idea: shred it, bag it up and offer it free to a pet store.
posted by pipeski at 10:23 AM on May 23, 2013

Going off of pipeski's suggestion, animal shelters would probably love a giant shredded paper donation.
posted by Fig at 10:33 AM on May 23, 2013

I asked this a few years ago....
posted by Lucinda at 10:33 AM on May 23, 2013

Donate it to ArtStart in St. Paul
posted by belladonna at 10:41 AM on May 23, 2013

Gah! Thank you, Lucinda! My search-fu was pretty off. There are some good and relevant suggestions in that thread. Thanks for pointing it out to me.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I'm inclined to agree with Etrigan's point that giving it to a school or teacher might be problematic. In fact, I asked my sister-in-law (a public school teacher) if she wanted them and even though she's a union advocate, she was wary of the language on the back.

I think, given the overwhelming amount of paper, I could probably do a couple different projects or donations with what I have on hand. Please keep the suggestions coming!
posted by elmer benson at 10:48 AM on May 23, 2013

Seconding ArtStart (which I used to know as Art Scraps).

Also, you could likely find nonprofits/advocacy groups that are members of or in in alignment with your coalition and see if they want the paper for their own scrap paper/pads. I work for a large nonprofit (and have worked at smaller ones) and we recycle our paper/have it bound into pads for this reason -- less money to admin and more to direct services.

(And thank you for your work on the issue, if it's one of the issues I think it could be.)
posted by loveyallaround at 10:56 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pretty much every DFL caucus ballot or scratch paper I've ever seen is from something like this. Offer it up to the party?
posted by advicepig at 10:57 AM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Donate them to the toddler room at a local daycare. Those kids can't read yet and they love paper.
posted by myselfasme at 11:03 AM on May 23, 2013

Also, maybe Axman Surplus might take it. Seems you can find everything there. No idea if they'd pay for it or what, but it could be worth a call.
posted by loveyallaround at 11:05 AM on May 23, 2013

My pre-schooler's daycare uses paper like this. She comes home with stuff drawn on all kinds of paper. Can't imagine anyone cares what is on it.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:17 AM on May 23, 2013

My mom (age 73) still prints a lot of stuff, like recipes, shopping lists, funny jokes, etc., despite my guilt trips about killing trees and waste. Maybe a senior center or an "adult retirement community" would put stacks out for their folks to take for personal printing needs? If the political messages bother someone, they have the choice to just not take it.

I don't know that an animal shelter would be able to use that kind of paper, tbh. It's not particularly absorbent compared to newspaper.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:06 PM on May 23, 2013

Throw them away. Think of it as cheap carbon sequestration.
posted by Bruce H. at 1:42 PM on May 23, 2013

How old is your kid? You could maybe take the paper and make new paper with it as a craft project. Add seeds and you can make really cool notecards that grow new plants.
posted by freezer cake at 3:03 PM on May 24, 2013

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