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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Recycling Books & Spreading Literacy, One Pin at a Time

February 13, 2017

You can never have too many books, right? Well, actually, you kinda can. With hundreds of thousands of new books published each year, and with many library shelves so overwhelmed that librarians are often forced to throw books away, even those of us who feel sentimental about the written word and the pages that hold them have to admit: we’ve got a problem.

So what to do with all of those outdated encyclopedias and forgotten math textbooks? Aren’t there any other options aside from trashing them? Recycling, of course, comes to mind. But the bindings of many books, especially hardcovers, contain adhesives that can’t be recycled. So the inside pages can go, but then what happens to the rest?

Enter Laura Bruland Shields. A long-time book-lover herself and an artist at heart, she’s taken on this wasteful problem and is making beautiful solutions every day – in the form of one-of-a-kind, laser cut accessories made directly from books that would otherwise be thrown away. On top of that, she takes a portion of the proceeds from her business and donates them to benefit literacy and girls’ education around the world.

When we learned about Laura’s story, we knew we had to feature her in our Uncommon Impact series – her values as a maker and ours as a certified B-Corp company are a perfect match. We love that she thinks ethically in the way she makes her products and uses her to success to benefit a cause she’s passionate about.

Read on to hear from Laura directly about her creative process, some of her favorite book-titles-turned-accessories, and how her business is helping to spread a love of reading worldwide.

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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Elise Waugh

October 1, 2015


Elise Waugh, UncommonGoods Public Relations Manager, Marketing

My hometown…
Can be pointed out on my hand: Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I’m inspired by…
Reading. Whether it’s Fast Company, Metropolis, Refinery29, or Harry Potter – I’m inspired by it all.

I’m passionate about…
Feminism, mid-century modern furniture, sustainability, and writing.

When I was little, I dreamed of…
According to my parents, being a clown or a veterinarian. I guess PR is somewhere in between.

If I could travel back in time, I’d…
Turn and face the strange – in other words, see David Bowie on tour.

If I could meet anyone, living or not, I would choose…

My favorite quote is…
“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Something that always makes me laugh…
The girls from Broad City and Michael Scott from The Office.

An uncommon fact about me…
I used to work for an awesome aquarium.

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