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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Old phone books

I can't remember if I ever posted how I use old phone books.  I'm pretty sure I did but I don't want to search the archives for it.  Anyway, it's good to go over some frugal ideas again for those who are new to reading my blogs. 

My neighbors save their old phone books for me.  I also get the new phone books from the porches of the empty houses on our block as soon as they are dropped there.  Ours are always covered in plastic but I like to get them before any dust or dirt can settle on the bags.

What do I use them for?  Lots of things.  If you've read my cardboard craft blog you know I use the pages to coat the furniture.  My grand daughter uses them for messies like playing with wall paper paste or home made finger paints or coloring pages. 

I use them to soak up grease from fried foods.  When I was a kid my grandmother used old Sears Roebuck catalogs to soak up grease.  We didn't have phone books in the days of a hand crank phone.  She saved the grease soaked pages to light a fire in the cook stove or the pot belly heat stove. 

   I use the pages for cleaning up spilled stuff from the floor or counters.  I clean mirrors and windows with them.  I polish things with them.  Hmm.... I use phone book pages like free paper towels.  Just about anything you use a paper towel for you can substitute phone book pages.   Phone book pages are actually quite clean except for the ink rubbing off sometimes.

I have another use for the phone book pages.  I write out my grocery list on them or use the pages like a note pad for jotting down things in a to do list.  Same thing my grandmother did with the Sears catalog.  Sometimes she wrote letters to far away family on the Sears pages.  She made her envelopes out of butcher paper.  Her grocery lists did not get thrown away after our trip to town.  My grandmother took the page to the outhouse to be used once more before getting thrown away.  We had a couple of extra Sears catalogs in the outhouse too. 

You might ask why use old phone books when note pads and paper towels are easily bought.  Well my thought is that Free is better than Cheap.  Even buying paper towels from a dollar store cheap can't beat the price of free.  Anything I absolutely don't think a phone book page should touch, I use a cloth towel.  Like wiping off Ladybug's hands and face.  I can't have ink streaks on a little face.  I use cloth. 

The way I figure it, each single phone book saves me about $60 to $80 because I don't buy paper towels to throw away.  Geeze, that's like wiping up a spill with paper money and throwing it away.  Have you noticed the cost of paper towels has gone up while the size of the rolls are getting smaller called down sizing?   Hmm... that's another subject. 

Every phone book I use also saves me a few dollars a year because I don't buy note pads.  Those $1 note pad purchases add up over time ya know?   I do keep a roll of paper towels here for guests or customers if needed.  I think I bought the one roll I have about 2 years ago. 

I'm sure I'm forgetting a use or two but I think you get the idea.


Lisa said...

That's a good encouragement. I get annoyed when the phone books are delivered because they seem like such a waste (who doesn't use the internet to find phone numbers these days?), but I never thought of them as a replacement for things like paper towels.

Anita Estes said...

I get annoyed when the phone books are left at obviously empty houses. I wonder who the phone companies believe will have a phone in an abandoned boarded up house?

Anonymous said...

i live in an apartment building and stare at 100+ phone books every year that will be tossed into a dumpster since noone uses them.However my family also camps a lot, and lately i've been wondering how to turn this gross waste into firewood for camping. Any thjoughts?

Anita Estes said...

I remember back in the 70s when I had a house with a fireplace I turned newspapers, junk mail, and magazines into fire logs. I don't see why old phone book pages couldn't be done the same way.

The trick is to roll a few pages at a time so it a really tight roll. The tighter the roll, the slower it will burn. When you get the roll to the size you want, hold it all together with a piece of wire or a twist tie with wire in it. String is not good because it burns off too quickly.

If you have the time to let paper logs dry out for a few weeks, wetting the few pages as you roll will compact the paper fibers even more. Making it more like solid wood.

Anita Estes said...

I forgot to say that paper creates much more creosote than wood because of the ink used in the printing and the paper pulp making process. Creosote will build up much more rapidly in the chimney. If paper logs are used in a fire place the chimney should be checked and cleaned regularly.

V said...

Thanks for the tips! What font do you use for your site? My mom says your font is easier to read than the one on my blog...

V said...

Thanks so much for your reply about the font on your blog! Now I just need to figure out how to turn my comment reply on...