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Envelopes From Recycled Paper

Whether I'm at work or at home, I try to limit the amount of paper I use by utilizing electronic media as much as possible. The problem is, I'm a stationary junkie. I would much prefer to send and receive greeting cards and written correspondence by postal mail rather than email. After all of the junk mail that gets delivered to my cyber mailbox each week, I find it refreshing to open something that has actually been delivered by a living breathing human being.


It seems like after a period of time, my stationary box always comes up long on cards and short on envelopes. My solution has been to make own envelopes out of recycled paper. Now not only am I able to personalize the envelopes according to the personalities of each addressee, but I get to alleviate some of my "paperless guilt" by showing the world (or at least the post office) that I am committed to recycling.

Envelope Materials:

  • Wallpaper scraps
  • Wrapping paper scraps
  • Magazine covers
  • Old maps
  • Paper grocery bags
  • Pages from old calendars, etc.

Have fun by selecting envelope paper that suits the personality of your recipient. A gardener might enjoy getting a card or letter in an envelope made from a picture on last year's gardening calendar. Use the cover of a sports magazine for an athlete or an old map for someone who loves to travel.



Colored paper can slow down mail automation machines unless the address is easily readable. To prevent this, use a plain, white, self-adhering address label when you're using an envelope made out of colorful paper. Make sure to print the name of the addressee clearly on the label using black or dark blue ink.

Standard 1 ounce letters can be a maximum of 1/4 inch thick and are machine sorted at the post office. Adding lace, buttons or reusing clasps from other envelopes are all wonderful ideas if you plan to deliver the envelope by hand. When sending envelops through the mail, however, an additional non-machine surcharge of $.0.13 is applicable under the following conditions:

  • It is a square letter
  • It contains very rigid items such as wood or metal
  • It has clasps, string, buttons, or similar closure devices
  • Ad

  • It has an address parallel to the shorter dimension of the letter
  • It contains items such as pens that cause the surface to be uneven
  • The length divided by height is less than 1.3 or more than 2.5.

Letter Dimensions: Length Height
Regular5 inch min 3-1/2 inch min
11-1/2 inch max 6-1/8 inch max
Large Envelope 11-1/2 inch min 6-1/8 inch max

Envelope Directions: A simple way to make an envelope template is to take apart any size envelope you happen to have laying around and use it as a pattern. Iron the envelope flat with a cool iron and trace the pattern onto a durable material like vinyl. Cut it out carefully. Now you have a long lasting template that won't rip or tear. Lay the vinyl template over the piece of paper of your choice, cut around it carefully and refold it like the original envelope. Use a glue suitable for paper (Elmer's stick glue works well) to seal the points of the envelop after inserting your letter or card.


Post Card Materials:

Post cards are a great way to drop someone a quick "hello." It's easy to recycle paper for postcards, but they need to be made from a slightly heavier paper like cardstock. Cereal boxes, magazine and phone book covers work really well.

Post Card Dimensions: LengthHeight
5 inch min3-1/2 inch min
6 inch max4-1/4 max

Free Envelope and Postcard Templates

Advice On Desktop Publishing

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About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 18, 20060 found this helpful

I agree with you, Ellen. I appreciate the extra and personal effort taken to make things special. Life is too short to live by electronic transfer alone. Hand made/handled is very noticeable. I like these tips.


God bless you as you work with your skills. : )

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 20, 20060 found this helpful

i do a similar thing i use those free envelopes u can get from the bank for paying in money with the banks name on which i cross out and send these envelopes into school whenever they request money or a signed letter for a trip anything in short which requires a envelope but not necessarily through the postbox


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