Posted by Ant Judy on one of the rubberstamping email lists
You can recycle cartons, packaging ... I (honest to goodness) use cereal boxes for stamping ... stamp on the unprinted side and mount it on something. I also recycle (commercial) greeting cards - all occasions -- often times, there's a whole card-sized piece you can recover from the back - stamp on it, layer it onto something else. Or, use the recovered piece of blank paper for your grocery list, address label, make a bookmark with it - whatever! Or, use artwork from the (commercial) recycled cards - use your tag templates to cut out, use in a collage, etc.
If you open a cereal box up, lay it flat and cut the ends off - it makes a great "mat" to stamp on. I've used umpteen dozen of them when mailing stuff ... to protect a nice card from inadvertent bending, etc.
Tag templates - the ones sold are handsome indeed, and if you can put out the money - do it! But, if you're (like me) - short of cash at times, you can make your own tag templates. I bought a see-through plastic place mat at the Dollar Store, and I made a batch of different size tag templates out of that.
Use your scraps! I had the worst habit of reaching for a full-size piece of cardstock whenever I wanted a bit of "trim" ... I keep scraps now - and did they come in handy for making Christmas gift tags!
Envelopes - inquire at your local card shop after a major holiday - like Christmas / Valentine's Day / Mother's Day, etc. ... ask what they do with their leftover envelopes. A few years ago, I bumped into the Carleton card representative at the card store just after Valentine's Day - she was taking all the Valentine cards off the shelves, shoving them in to a garbage bag, and was putting the envelopes in a box. I asked her what she was going to do with them ... she gave me a box, and then said she had a few more in her car if I wanted them. I ended up with (get this) over 700 *free* envelopes. Which is why people are *still* getting stuff from me in red envelopes! Sometimes your card and envelope won't "match" size-wise, but who cares!
Stamp cleaner - I never use commercial stamp cleaner. I use either dish detergent or window cleaner (from the Dollar Store) on a damp rag.
Think in terms of "reduce, reuse, recycle" - make it a habit. Some of the greatest background stuff I've made came from the paper floor mat the mechanic left in my car! I had to order a new remote control unit for my ceiling fan ... it had the niftiest green paper all scrunched up for packaging. I recovered it, ironed it, and used it for a stamping project! I go through the junk mail to retrieve bits of colored paper, dark paper, etc., that I can incorporate into stamping projects.
Some stuff from the Dollar Store is fine:
Utility craft knives
Double-sided carpet tape
Buttons, ribbons, feathers - stuff for embellishments
Acrylic paints, modge
Window cleaner (for cleaning stamps)
I don't use paper towels around my stamping area - I could go through rolls of them - and they cost $$'s. Use clean old rags instead - I cut up my old sweatshirts for cleaning stamps, etc. Throw them in the washer and use them over and over. BTW, I have practically discontinued using paper towels altogether; it used to be that I bought 2 or 4 rolls every time I got groceries - what a waste to use a paper towel, wad it up and throw it in the garbage!
Buy unmounted stamps, and use the HALO system to mount them - this is the *best* investment I ever made in regard to stamping.
Watch for sales at Staples, Michael's, etc. Oh, and Wal-Mart has paper edgers ... saw some in the scrapbooking section for $2.95. Gawd, that's about a third of what I paid for my Fiskars ones.
Use "natural" embellishments - look around your environment for bits of twigs, feathers, beach glass, sea shells, flower petals, birch bark (from windfalls - do not remove it from living trees).