July 21st, 2018

Praxis: Don’t let all that Christmas wrapping paper go to waste

By Medicine Hat News on January 2, 2018.

I don’t know about you, but after the holidays, I have a ton of paper lying around my house. I have been thinking what I should do with it. It is all torn up and in little shreds; likely due to the holiday excitement (by me of course!), but I got to thinking that is perfect for this activity. Amid all of the excitement, we often forget that we should recycle all of that paper that we may just be throwing into the garbage and ultimately, the landfill. Let’s get started!
*Remember to ask an adult before doing this experiment.

Materials

– one pair of nylon stockings

– wire hanger

– stapler

– water

– blender

– two large bowls or tubs

– scrap paper (tissue paper, wrapping paper, paper towels, newsprint, construction paper)

– food colouring, flowers or herbs (optional)

– two large dish towels

Procedure

1. Have an adult assist you in bending the wire coat hanger into a shape of your choice. This is where it can be fun, you can make your paper all kinds of shapes, it does not have to be a boring old square!

2. Pull the nylon stockings over the coat hanger.

3. Using a stapler, staple the stockings in place.

4. Tear your paper up into 2.5 cm (1”) pieces (approximately) and put into the large bowl.

5. Once the bowl is full, cover it with warm water.

6. Allow the paper to soak for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

7. Fill the blender about halfway with soaked paper. Cover with warm water.

8. Cover the blender tightly with the lid or else it is going to get messy!

9. Blend your mixture until you can no longer see pieces of paper, it should be a disgusting sludgy looking mixture. This is just perfect!

10. Pour the mixture into the second tub you have.

11. At this point you can add herbs or flowers or even food colouring to your mixture.

12. Add enough warm water to this mixture to make it look like really thin soup.

13. Take the frame you made, and push it deep into the tub, scooping up some of the pulpy mixture you made.

14. At this point, you may have to spread it out evenly with your hands.

15. Rest the frame on the tub and allow the excess water to drip out.

16. Lay a dish towel out on a flat surface.

17. Carefully flip your frame over onto the dish towel and allow your paper to release.

18. Cover the paper with another dish towel and try to blot out some of the excess water.

19. Uncover and allow your paper to dry overnight.

20. Once the paper is dry, gently peel off the dish towel.

21. If the paper is wrinkled, you may want to have an adult help you iron it on a very low setting.

22. Make more paper with your extra pulp, or freeze it in a zipper bag to make another day.

23. Have fun making different colours and even scented paper!

What is going on?

Did you know that paper is a pretty simple material? Essentially, it can be made from any fibrous material or even recycled paper. Fibrous materials mean they are made of fibres or thin microscopic strands of plant tissue.

In this experiment, you were a good steward of the environment because you recycled paper! You found a use for materials that you may have otherwise thrown in the garbage and ultimately ended up in the landfill. By reusing materials, we help the environment.

You made recycled paper by creating a slurry with pulp of all of the paper you found around the house. Making a slurry with pulp is similar to how they would make paper in a factory, you just did it on a much smaller scale. The slurry is often a disgusting thick liquid mixture with all of the fibres floating around in it. I sometimes think it looks like the oatmeal I had to eat as a child — but do not get me wrong, I love oatmeal! All kidding aside, a pulp is a fibrous material that we made from the waste paper. Similar to how they would do it in a factory, you did right in your own kitchen — you made your very own recycled paper!

Patty Rooks is senior scientific consultant at PRAXIS, “Connecting Science To The Community.” Contact Praxis at praxis@praxismh.ca, http://www.praxismh.ca, Tweet or follow us @PraxisMedHat, or friend us on Facebook.

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