Can You Recycle Notebooks, Journals, And Coloring Books?

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

Nowadays, we all want to do the best we can in doing our part to help keep our planet in good standing. Furthermore, recycling can help reduce the number of dangerous plastics that end up in places they shouldn’t, but some items make it hard to know what the best course of action is.

Things like notebooks, journals and coloring books are not your traditional plastic bottles, so what should you do with them? Continue reading to find out this answer and more!

Can You Recycle Notebooks, Journals, And Coloring Books?

When it comes to recycling different items like notebooks, journals, and coloring books, there are certain measures you must take. You can recycle each of these items, but depending on the materials that each contains, you might have to remove certain things like spiral bindings and paper to ensure they are recycled properly. 

Continue reading through the article to understand the best way to recycle those miscellaneous items that are tricky enough to make you think twice.

How To Recycle Notebooks, Journals, And Coloring Books

There are a lot of different things that you simply can’t just toss in the recycling bin willy-nilly, with or without the recycling triangles. 

Furthermore, coloring books are simple to recycle, but with notebooks and journals, you will want to be sure to disassemble them properly so that everything is disposed of correctly.

The last thing you want is to try to do your part in saving the planet, then have those recyclables get tossed to the landfill over a tiny technicality. 

Therefore, below is a good description of how to properly dispose of notebooks, journals, and coloring books.


When recycling notebooks, there are a few more things to consider and take action towards so you ensure they are disposed of properly:

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Plastic covers: On some notebooks, there is a plastic cover to protect the front pages from getting damaged. 

Even though we are used to recycling plastic almost on a daily basis, these covers will need to be removed before placing the rest of the notebook in the recycling. 

Furthermore, the plastic may actually contaminate that particular batch of recyclables if it is not made to be recycled in the same fashion as the rest of the notebook.

Metal and plastic coils: Depending on the type of recycling facility that you are sending your recyclables too, they may or may not be able to accept the coils that bind most notebooks. 

Sometimes the facility can remove them, but it is probably a good idea to remove these just in case it proves to be a problem later in the process.

Paper: Obviously, the paper within your notebook is to be recycled as you would most recyclables. 

Furthermore, this portion can be placed in your traditional curbside recycle bin to be picked up by the city on their weekly route. 

If there is a designated center you drop paper goods at, then it is likely there might be a shredding machine that can also take the journal and notebook remains.

Notebooks just take a little more effort than the others to recycle because of the way they are made.

It may seem tedious, but between having the whole batch at the recycling facility being ruined or taking a couple extra minutes to remove bindings and/or a plastic cover, it is a quick task.



Journals can be very similar to notebooks, but they can still have subtle differences. 

Sometimes, a journal may not have the same metal or plastic spiral binding that traditional notebooks have, but still a binding nonetheless. 

If the binding is built into the journal, then it is likely that the entire journal can go in your normal recycling.

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It is only when there are separate metal or plastic coils that you need to remove them. 

If the journal still contains a harder (cardboard) cover, then that will have to be torn off before the body of the paper gets thrown into the recycling. 

Other than that, the rest is fair game to go straight into the recycling bin.

As mentioned, what you consider a journal versus a notebook can have many similarities, but the way you recycle them can vastly differ due to subtle changes. 

Coloring Books

Coloring books are a little unique because there are a couple of different ways that you can properly dispose of them. 

This is as a result of them having a slightly different type of paper and very likely a substance like crayon, colored pencil, or markers that changes the integrity of the paper.

Coloring books can still be placed in your traditional curbside recycling bin, and they will most likely be disposed of the same way as normal paper goods are. 

However, there has been a recent addition of a different container for such items labeled as, “mixed paper.” 

With this change in sorting, it can help reduce the amount of contamination that ends up within that given batch, and will thus increase the value of the recycled goods.

Whichever way you choose to recycle your coloring book, it will more than likely be disposed of properly.

However, if you take your recyclables to a collection and they have a specific bin for mixed paper goods then you might as well throw it in there. 

Otherwise, your traditional curbside bin will more than suffice.

Are Notebooks, Journals, And Coloring Books Biodegradable?

If you want to take things a step further, finding biodegradable notebooks and journals can increase the chances of a successful deposit and breakdown. 

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With materials that are easier to work with and break down well, these will undoubtedly play well with the rest of the basket and further reduce the risk of ruining the entire batch of recycling.

Furthermore, there are certain notebooks and journals that are made out of biodegradable materials such as banana paper, hemp paper, bamboo, and other recycled goods. 

However, don’t let the fact that they’re made out of different materials trick you into thinking that it will affect the style of the journal. 

They have come a long way and have been able to recreate beautiful looking journals that are safer for the environment.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle cotton pads, whether you can recycle chip bags, and whether you can recycle cereal boxes and bags.


It is easy to fall into the trap of throwing any sort of plastic or paper goods in the recycle bin thinking that all plastics and papers are equal. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Although most things can go in your weekly recycle bin, different household items like notebooks and journals.

In this article we addressed the caveats that come with these particular goods and how to ensure they end up in the right place without ruining any other recycled or biodegradable materials. A little effort can go a long way in helping the environment!


  • Jean Richardson

    Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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