Frugal Focus – Recycle & Save Money At The Same Time!

recycleEach week I thought it might be fun to focus on one frugal concept. It might be something from the ad, a tip from a reader or really anything. If it has a frugal focus that might help someone…then, I’ll try to feature it.

This week's frugal focus was sent in by Sue. She has some great tips for saving money and recycling at the same time! Check out all her awesome tips...she really has a GREAT system.

We all get junk mail (ick! what a waste of paper).  I noticed that quite a bit of the stuff that comes in letters was printed on one side or not completely full on the back side. I have been reusing before recycling my mail by using the blank sections to print my coupons.

If I only need to print one coupon it is great NOT to use an entire sheet of paper. The piece of paper is completely used, so now junk mail is my friend!   I bought 2 reams of paper in July 2011 (free courtesy of Staples during the Back to School sale). I have yet to open the 2nd ream, about a half inch stack left in the first one!

To make this easy to do, I made 4 file folders and labeled them 1,2,3 and BLANK. If the junk page had blank space for just one coupon--it goes in the 1 file, room for two coupons--in the 2 file, completely blank on the back of the letter--in the 3 file. Of course, the BLANK file is for the paper that is blank on both sides. (Another option if you lack space and time, is to just use the blank back of paper.)  My paper shredder/recycle bin is right next to the bookcase where the file folders are.  As I read the junk mail the paper is sorted to the proper place.  My dad has started sorting his junk mail and giving me coupon friendly paper.

I admit, it DOES require a little thinking when I print my coupons to put the paper in the printer as needed.  But I look at it this way, it helps the enviroment by using paper already made, the paper is free, and the back of a coupon doesn't need to be blank.  Now before I toss a piece of paper in the recycle bin it is looked at in a different light. "Can I reuse this?" My awareness of reusable paper is not just junk mail!  All letter size paper has the potential to be reused. The colored paper coupons get a second look or comment from the cashier.   Which gives me an opportunity to tell how I reuse/recycle to help our community.

Thanks so much Sue.

If you have any tips to share, I'd love for you to send them to me. All those little things that we think are common knowledge may be news to someone else!


  1. Ashley says

    I love this idea. I also use the kids’ school papers for my coupons. They usually bring home a million of these every week! Seems like such waste

  2. catherine says

    I save the sunday newspapers and when I get enough (usually enough to fill an IKEA bag) I make a trip to the Humane society and drop them off for the puppies and kittens.
    I also use colored paper from inserts, pages from advertisements, etc. The cashiers sometimes have a good laugh at what is on the reverse.
    I save every bag from shopping for yard sales, either to take with me as I shop, or give them to people who shop mine. It’s also a great “buy more” since you don’t have to try and hold onto what you have selected.

  3. Sue G says

    Great idea. It’s so simple one I wonder why I didn’t think of it before. I waste so much paper. Thanks, Sue!

  4. bensoki says

    I also recycle those envelopes I get from bills. I pay most of my bills online, so those return payment envelopes become my trading envies. Just cover up the window and its good to go.
    I also use those envies to sort my coupons in my coupon box. I don’t have a binder. I have envelopes for each category. Once the envelope gets worn I replace it with my free bill payment envie.

  5. Peggy says

    The one lesson from printing coupons on scrap paper that I’ve learned the hard way is to be sure the coupon doesn’t print with an ad on the top part and coupon on the bottom part. I’ve found that it’s best to use a blank sheet (or at least blank on one side) for the first coupon and then use scraps for the second print.
    I also use whatever is left over from junk mail to write notes and grocery lists on.

  6. Adrienne says

    I have been doing this for quite some time now. I keep junk mail papers, the kids 100 pages of “announcements” from school, I also have people who work in the admin office at my place of work save them, as well as at my husbands job. I have not bought paper to print my coupons in over two years!! I do get odd looks by the cashiers who are not used to me…but hey, where does it state the back of the coupon has to be blank?! lol :) I think it is a fantastic way to recycle and save money at the same time!!

  7. marie says

    I recycle the 100% paper payment envelopes but use the ones with a plastic window to send things to school…notes to teacher, lunch money, box tops…anything you may have once used a Ziploc bag for can probably be sent to your teachers in one of these envelopes.

    Any recycling will help keep your city;s landfill costs down which will trickle down (hopefully) to the consumer :)

    Crumpled newspaper (the black print) and windex make the best lint free/ streak free window and mirror cleaning combination…saves on paper towels or wipes.

    Using cereal bags as freezer bags works well…the thicker ones (Krave, Cheerios, Chex) work better than thinner bags (Rice Kripsies…)

  8. serena says

    I DO THIS TOO!!! (not the file part… but the rest)

    I hate wasting paper, so whenever possible, I have my printer on ‘pause’ so I can see the print preview and plan how to feed the paper. Can’t do this all the time … and definitely do NOT do this with Target coupons as if you have any kind of printer issue (including not enough paper or ANYTHING ELSE) you will LOSE your requested coupons …. argh~!!!!

    I recycle as much junk mail as possible: reuse the better envelopes and put as much as I can in with the newspaper recycling. I do lways remember to shred or destroy anything with my name and address, however.
    I am so happy to read that others are being so frugal and environmentally thoughtful.
    It doesn’t surprise me though…. you guys are awesome!!!

  9. Lila says

    These are some good ideas, a lot of them seem so simple, yet I never thought about it, thank you everybody for sharing!

  10. Ashley says

    I have been using already printed on paper since I began couponing. At first, I was nervous the stores wouldn’t accept them, but almost 4 years later and I have yet to have a problem. I was in college then so I had tons of paper from my classes. I just used old papers or information teachers handed out and reused them for coupons. I hope everyone starts doing this because it saves a ton of trees from being cut down for now reason. Then recycle your scraps. I’m a big fan of the three R’s. Reduce, Renew, Recycle. It saves money and the environment. It’s a win-win situation.

  11. NG says

    Genius!! Love it! And the envelopes, too! DUH? So easy to do! I’ve already begun tonight for my “print & save” coupons for next week! Thanks so much!

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