Sustainable Scrapbooking: The Ultimate Guide

While getting crafty is a great project for the family, traditional scrapbooking uses lots of paper, glue, and even plastics to create the works of art. Not only does it create unrecyclable waste, but it can also get pretty expensive. With this in mind, we created our Sustainable Scrapbooking edit with our best selling photo albums, journals, and recycled newspaper products to help you create something special without compromising on your green values. And if that isn’t enough, we’ve also created this handy guide to scrapbooking the eco-friendly way.

Start Your Scrapbook

So where do you begin? You’ll want to start with picking an event or theme for your scrapbook. You might have a special someone’s birthday coming up, or maybe you’re in need of a place to keep baby photos, wedding photos, or keepsakes from a special trip. It could be based around a specific event, or an ongoing project to keep adding to over the years. Just make sure you’ve got plenty to fill your scrapbook with!

Now for the basics – collecting your materials. For your most special memories you’ll want to choose a scrapbook that looks good, feels nice, and is hardwearing enough to keep your treasures safe over the years. And it’s even better if it’s handmade, Fair Trade, and crafted from sustainable materials! Here are some of our favourites.

Personalised Distressed Leather Photo Albums

Handmade by a small family business we’ve worked with for over 20 years in Rajasthan, India, these Fair Trade photo albums are available in 4 different sizes to suit every scrapbooking project. The leather used is a by-product of the meat industry in India and is tanned using only natural dyes, making it a great sustainable choice.

Our favourite part of these albums is that our in-house personalising team can personalise the covers for you. Using a hot foil stamping machine, you can choose up to 2 rows of text in gold, silver, black, or blind (no colour) debossing. Take a look at the album page for some inspiration on how to personalise yours.

There are 30 pages in each one, enough to hold up to 60 6×4” photos in the smallest size and up to 240 in the extra large. There’s even tissue paper interleaved between each page to protect and preserve your photos. And what’s more, the lovingly handbound pages are handmade khadda paper, an acid free paper crafted from unbleached cotton recycled from the enormous Indian garment industry. Each page is lovingly put together by a charity in rural Rajasthan that promotes women’s education and their social standing in the rural villages. So not only does it look good – it does good!

Elephant Dung Photo Albums

If recycled leather isn’t for you, how about elephant dung? Yes, really! With covers crafted from 75% elephant dung and 25% recycled paper these albums are certainly a more unique way of using sustainable materials. The elephant dung collected by the Maximus Elephant Conservation Trust is boiled with margosa leaves (a natural disinfectant) before being mixed with recycled paper, to produce paper products as unique as the elephant that helped to create it.

With 35 pages of paddy husk paper inside, interleaved with tissue paper, the 3 sizes these albums come in will fit between 70 and 280 6×4” photos. Perfect for gifting, they come in their very own presentation box crafted from the same elephant dung paper as the covers.

Large Sari Fabric Photo Album

Looking for something a bit more colourful? Our Sari range is one of our bestsellers, and we’re sure you can see why. These beautiful photo albums are covered with handmade sari fabric from Varanasi, India, and come in 6 different vibrant colours with stunning traditional patterns. They’re available in the same sizes as our leather albums and have the same number of khadda paper pages, so they’ll fit plenty of memories.

Fill your scrapbook

Now for the fun part – finding your photos! If you’ve already got some printed, you’re ready to pick out the ones you want and get going. If, like most of us, you’ve got a camera roll full of unorganised, blurry photos and accidental screenshots, you’ll need to refine them a little more. You could print these at home or have a look for your nearest photo printing shop. Look for one that offers recycled and recyclable photo paper for extra eco-conscious points.

But a scrapbook isn’t just a photo album. What makes a scrapbook so special is adding other keepsakes and decorative pieces to the pages to make it more unique – and reduce waste while you’re at it! If you’re in need of ideas, we love to add train tickets, event tickets, cut outs from magazines or brochures, maps, pressed flowers, wristbands, letters, stickers, or stamps. You could even write, draw, paint, or embroider over your pages.

Before sticking anything down it’s a good idea to arrange everything on the page first. That way you can decide if everything fits together, and if you’ve got all the right bits in all the right places before committing. Then, you can decide how to mount each piece into the scrapbook. Good old-fashioned glue is what you’ll likely have in the cupboard, but it can be a little messy. You could try a spray mount, but they aren’t the most eco-friendly of adhesives. For photos we offer boxes of 250 clear, acid free, self-adhesive photo corners which you can add to your order for just £2.50.

Another favourite is washi tape, a paper tape made from highly renewable Japanese shrubs. It’s biodegradable, recyclable, waterproof AND heatproof! You can tear it, write on it, reuse it, and if that isn’t enough it comes in more colours and patterns than you could dream of. The ultimate in stylish sustainability. We love these ones from Paperchase and The Washi Tape Shop.

And that’s you done! All your treasured memories all in one place, ready to share with the family, friends, neighbours, electrician… whoever sits down long enough. Treat them well and your scrapbook will last for years, though we’re sure you’ll be itching to add another to your collection soon enough.

More sustainable scrapbook inspiration

For more inspiration why not check out our Sustainable Scrapbooking board on Pinterest. We’ve collected loads of ideas for different themes, and you’ll find easy links to our favourite sustainable scrapbooking essentials. And don’t forget you’ll find the products we mentioned here (and more!) in our Sustainable Scrapbooking edit. When you’re done, we’d love it if you shared your creations with us at @paperhighuk on Instagram – we can’t wait to see them!