I’ve recently come across junk journaling and it’s taking over my life! My friend, Artie Carden, very kindly sent me magazine clippings and other crafty things for my birthday, which all matched my aesthetic and interests perfectly. I used some bits in my Adventure Book, but the rest, I was stumped, until I found junk-journaling. Naturally, my first question was, is junk-journaling eco-friendly?
If you’re reusing things you already own like books and magazines, or picking up things from second-hand stores, then yes, junk-journaling is eco-friendly! Let’s answer what is a junk journal and what you need to know.
What Is Junk Journaling? Junk Journal Vs. Scrapbook
Junk journaling is similar to scrapbooking; it’s simply a journal you use to collect things. People often have a “theme” per page or two page spread or the whole journal, like maybe a bookish page, or a travel page, or a floral page. There aren’t any hard rules, for the most part, it’s a type of collaging.
While a scrapbook, might be more nostalgic, and include memories and photos, junk journaling can be more about making something you think looks good. That’s not a hard rule, lots of people’s junk journals are deeply personal and their scrapbooks aren’t.
A junk-journal is usually aesthetic in a messy, worn kind of way, while a scrapbook you might bring out for family gatherings could be neater. A lot of people even make their junk-journals from scratch.
Is Junk-Journaling Good For The Environment?
Generally, junk journals aren’t bad for the environment. As I said earlier, a lot of people don’t even buy a new journal, they make one from scratch. Lots of creators use things they already own or source things from thrift shops as ephemera (which is basically, the stuff in your junk journal).
So, naturally repurposing things is good since it saves them from going to landfill. With second-hand shopping, the damage has already been done, so you’re helping to reduce the demand for new products.
When Is Junk Journaling Bad For The Environment?
I have seen other people pose questions about some of the things people use in their junk journals. Like buying stickers and washi tape designed like stamps, shopping lists, pages from books, and letters.
I agree, I don’t see the appeal of buying stickers or washi tape that look like common household items you might already own, or could find somewhere else. There is also an argument to be made about the commodification of “poor” working class “aesthetics” by much more privileged people. Buying new stickers or washi tape with pretty designs makes more sense to me, but each to their own.
Junk journals are more about having a creative outlet than environmentalism, so a lot of people who make them, aren’t doing it to reduce waste, it just makes them happy. As far as environmental damage goes, I think there are much more important things to worry about than art supplies – especially when those art supplies are being used.
Look At The Bigger Picture
The thing with sustainability, is we often miss the mark and attack people who aren’t actually the biggest contributors. By this I mean, criticizing disabled people who need plastic straws and shaming people who can’t go vegan. Yes, we should all try to live greener lives. I’m upset and angry too, but the Average Joe isn’t the reason were in this situation.
So, when wondering is junk journaling eco-friendly, is it really worth that getting worked up about on occasions when it’s not being done in the most sustainable way possible? Or are you simply upset about the state of the world – and feeling hopeless – and found something to lash out at?
Direct your anger at those who are more responsible: the politicians who won’t do anything, the polluting corporations and greenwashing businesses, or the billionaires who would rather use a private jet than sit in traffic. Attacking people for a small hobby that brings them joy isn’t productive and won’t get them on your side.
42 Eco-Friendly Junk Journal Materials & Ephemera
If you do want to use junk journaling as part of a zero-waste journey, then here are some ephemera ideas:
- Newspaper clippings
- Magazine clippings
- Old concert tickets & ticket stubs
- Bus tickets & travel tickets in general
- Old postcards
- Promotional leaflets
- Cut outs from recipe books
- Old bookmarks
- Pretty packaging (e.g. the coffee my packaging comes in is cute, or some clothes tags have nice designs)
- Business cards and promotional stickers
- Old school books
- Spore prints
- Dried flowers
- Autumn leaves
- Sticky notes
- Coffee or tea printing
- Old photos
- Film negatives
- Clear film on envelopes
- Coloured envelopes
- Old Christmas cards
- Christmas labels
- Wrapping paper scraps
- Birthday cards
- Brown paper bags
- Gift cards
- Tissue paper from products/crepe paper
- Fabric strips
- Pretty napkins
- Cardboard boxes
- Old cereal & food boxes
- Foil (e.g. the gold foil chocolate is wrapped in)
- Old sheet music
- Pull tabs from cans
- Bottle caps
- Feathers (clean them first!)
Why Junk Journal
Now that we’ve answered, “is junk journaling eco-friendly?” the next question might be, why junk journal at all?
Everyone has different reasons for getting into junk journaling. I find it relaxing. I had lots of stuff to use like the mountain of notebooks I’ve been gifted over the years and random scraps I’ve held on to. Please stop buying me notebooks for special occasions, I have enough for a lifetime.
I’ve also commodified a lot hobbies. So, while I still enjoy writing and music, it’s not actually as fun now that they’re jobs or aspirational. It’s nice to have something that’s just for me to do to unwind.
Keeping a junk journal is also a great way to treasure memories and keep things in the one place. I spent months thinking I lost my My Chemical Romance tickets and wrist bands when I moved, so it’s best to keep things like that secured in one safe place. Once I found them, I taped them into my Adventure Book and added all my old concert tickets too.
Plus, there’s even a sense of community, online and in-person. Did you know that junk journal retreats are a thing?
Have you ever tried junk journaling? If you’re feeling crafty, you might also like these ideas for upcycling clothes and the no-sew version, or my eco-goth guide. To get into the creative mood, this is what I listen to when I’m writing.