How to recycle the years gone by

Time was up. I could no longer defer the inevitable: I had some outdated wall calendars that I was unable to part with. Keeping them any longer was ridiculous, but recycling them meant discarding something I felt was not disposal-worthy. What was an organizer girl to do?

To best understand my conundrum, let me take you back a couple of years when I found myself doing something then that I had not done in at least 15 years: I purchased a wall calendar. I know, that may seem strangely unremarkable, but despite the plethora of amazing and inspiring options each year, I had resisted the temptation to buy something I knew wouldn’t use on daily basis.

Nikki McClure calendarAt the end of 2008 I stumbled upon one that was completely different. Each page was dominated by a bold yet extraordinarily sensitive tableau created by artist Nikki McClure and her trusty X-act0 knife. The block of days designating each month felt more like a reference element; there was no space for jotting down appointments or important dates. The aesthetic of her work and the messages they invoke touched a sweet spot in me and my partner Sven. We were hooked. The kitchen door is now home to our third McClure calendar in as many years.

Now, back to that unresolved matter: It was January 6, 2011, and I sat here wracked with indecision as to what to do with the calendars from the previous two years. There was one logical answer: find a way to reuse them.

So, in honor of McClure’s creations that magnify simple yet powerful and fleeting moments of life, the calendars will be employed to record some of the fleeting moments that are part of my days. All pages (the calendar cover included) were printed on one side, so I cut the pages in half and each half into thirds.

Nikki McClure calendarNikki McClure calendar cut into scrap paper

The years were transformed into an inspiring and colorful stack of papers for writing grocery lists, to do lists, phone messages, and random notes to Sven!

recycling a calendar into scrap paper

But what about all the other outdated calendars in the world that need a new use? The reality is that most calendars are printed on both sides of each page, so turning them into scrap paper is not an option. Below are some interesting options I’ve experienced over the past couple of years.

recycled calendar pages used as a decoration in a wedding tentCalendar as “wallpaper”

Take for example, the image to the right. That’s a tent pole wrapped with calendar pages. Friends decided this was a perfect way to make their wedding venue more colorful, and the metal poles more warm and festive. A little bit of tape, a ladder, and a whole lot of outdated calendars transformed the space in no time.

Calendar as seasonal bloom

In December, my time waiting on line to check out at the neighborhood grocery store was spent marveling at oversized paper snowflake-like constructs hanging over the cashiers’ stations. The snowflakes were made from the store’s grocery bags, but I had a sense they’d be even more beautiful if made from calendar pages. I found the snowflakes online along with these instructions. I tried one out with scrap paper and then pages from part of a wall calendar that was given to me as a gift. The calendar page version (below) took about ten minutes to complete.

Eco-logical wall calendar 2010calendar pages turned into a snowflake or flower

What do you think? One can easily mistake it for a giant flower or star, right? Oh, a constellation of these would have been very pretty in my friends’ wedding tent.

Calendar as “bulletin/vision board”

The other half of the wall calendar depicted above has stayed on the wall above my desk and now serves as a sort of “bulletin/vision board” hybrid. I’ve been affixing inspiring images, notes to self, and other pieces of this and that to it with round paper clips (the kind that make me happy) and in some instances, painter’s tape.

calendar as bulletin board

Calendar as gift or storage bag

In terms of a different kind of functional and creative reuse, there’s the gift bag I learned to make during a SCRAP (Scroungers Center for Reusable Art Parts) demonstration I attended some time ago. I chose a page from an M.C. Escher calendar and was guided through the folding process. The completed bag sits on a shelf in my office. I use it to store a ball of twine and other bits of gift wrapping adornment.

calendar page recycled into a gift bagcalendar page recycled into a gift bag

Now that we’re in the middle of January, have I inspired you to do something different with your past? What’s going to become of your calendar? Just think, one calendar can yield two star/flower/snowflake thingies, twelve gift bags, and oh, so much more.

Thank you Nikki McClure for granting permission for me to photograph and publish images of your calendar. (I hope you like the reuse!). A hearty thanks to Cheryl Kapchan, Outreach Coordinator at SCRAP, for searching high and low  to find these instructions for the gift bag:

instructions for how to make a gift bag from recycled paper
click image to enlarge

11 thoughts on “How to recycle the years gone by

  1. This is fantastic,Deb. You are so creative. I have to agree with your love of Nikki McClure art. As I was reading, I thought you’d make greeting cards out of them. But I like the love notes to Sven (without the added work) even better! Thank you for posting.

  2. Haha, I just wrote about making a greeting card out of a hoarded Nikki McClure calendar page, and happened upon your entry here! Love the scrap paper idea but I think I’d be too worried of thinking of Some Better Use later on!

    1. Julie, I think we need to form a Nikki McClure calendar collectors group! Oh, how happy I am to learn I’m not alone. Here’s to our expanding realm of creative uses for her inspiring work!

  3. I’m so happy I found this. I was actually googling “what to do with old nikki mcclure calendar”. I just knew that someone out there would have thought of something!

    1. Knowing you’re happy by finding this post makes me happy, Stacy! Glad to be of service and hopefully some inspiration. I’ve yet to “recreate” with 2011 as I sit here admiring the 2012 edition ; )

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