The Whitman College Bookstore is again offering its popular brand of “upcycled” notebooks, which are made from 100 percent rescued and recycled materials. According to Rebecca Thorpe, bookstore merchandise and marketing specialist, the environmentally friendly notebooks are selling out almost as fast as they can stock them.
“We can’t keep them on the shelf! People just love them,” Thorpe said, adding that a new shipment has just arrived.
The current version of “upcycled” notebooks, made from recycled materials but without the chemical processing, emerged when Whitman changed the college visual identity during the summer of 2010. Leftover annual supplies of letterhead, envelopes and other paper products became outdated, so the Printing Services staff began producing notebooks out of the old materials. The project took off, and campus community members started donating cardboard from cracker and cereal boxes, which became covers for the new notebooks.
Thorpe explained the benefits of “upcycling” versus conventional recycling.
“With recycling, you’re still using energy and resources, but with upcycling we’re just taking the product as is and reconfiguring it,” she said. “If you’re upcycling, you’re not using additional energy.”
Student Shelley Stephen ’14 has been working on the project for about a year. She estimates that she has made more than 800 upcycled notebooks, which sell for between $2 and $3 at the bookstore, depending on size. Proceeds benefit the Whitman Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund, which bolsters campus conservation and sustainability efforts.
"I love seeing people use these notebooks in my classes and it always puts a smile on my face," says Stephan. "When I see them being used, I know that all the hours I put into making these notebooks does make a difference. This project is a great example of how Whitman demonstrates 'green' living."
Whitman’s upcycling effort doesn’t end with notebooks. The bookstore is also hosting a “Pamper Party” to benefit the Moms Network of Walla Walla, and some of the vendors will be selling upcycled products. Portland-based company LooptWorks, the originators of the upcycling movement, will be arriving with a shipment of upcycled t-shirts and other clothing items for the bookstore. Becci Moore, administrative assistant for development, will be selling a selection of her handmade upcycled jewelry, which she designs from used and donated materials.
The event will take place Thursday, Oct. 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the lower level of Reid Campus Center. Free babysitting and kids’ crafts will be provided by the staff of the bookstore. For more information, contact Thorpe at x5274 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.