The United States, with 5 percent of the earth’s population, uses 30 percent of all paper — by far the largest per capita paper consumption rate for any country on the planet. In fact, we waste more paper than anything else. Let the significance of that sink in for a minute, because Americans are really good at wasting things, from food to energy. We are literally drowning in a sea of newspaper, office paper, and paper products, which is bad news for our environment and our economy.
Recycling is a good way to curb this rampant paper consumption, but it’s not enough. Even though the majority of paper used in the U.S. gets recycled, saving more than 100 million cubic yards of landfill space each year, we could be doing more. Besides, not all paper can be recycled into new paper products. Some papers have too many contaminants to recycle. And there is a limit to the number of times a piece of paper can be recycled. So why not find a way to upcycle paper instead?
We decided to seek out some practical gadgets and gizmos that reuse paper in creative ways. Rather than just turning wasted paper into lower quality paper that will then have to be landfilled, we think paper has a higher calling. The designers of these five awesome gadgets must agree, because they’ve created unique ways for paper to outlive its average life span in style.
1. The Eliminator – Paper Shredding Lamp
The Eliminator is part desk lamp, part hand-crank paper shredder. Designed by Merve Kahraman, this multitasking desk accessory uses the falling paper as a curtain shade to the light on the top, and the shredded papers as the nest for a second light at the bottom. Paper is shredded by turning a simple handle on the lamp’s shade. “Users can personalize the lamp by their choice of paper from magazines, newspapers, etc.,” explains Kahraman. “Once the user wants to change the background of their lamp, the shredded paper falls down onto the bottom plate giving rebirth to itself as a new light source.”
Keep reading for four more upcycled paper gadgets…