Paper: how to reuse it

With so much talk of the negative impacts of plastic on the environment these days, it’s easy to forget about paper; another product the world produces and wastes far too much of. Of course, paper is readily and easily recycled in the UK these days, but recycling should be the last option in every household, as it uses energy which otherwise wouldn’t be required. In this article I hope to inspire you with ideas for paper reuse, and get you to think about every piece of paper or card that enters your house. If you’d like some ideas for reducing your paper waste, so you have less to reuse, this article should help.

So, how can I reuse paper or card?

There are so many options available to you before you fling your paper straight in to your recycling bin. Give one a go today!

Practical ideas

  • Use it as scrap paper to make notes on: Write your shopping list on it, jot down a phone number on it, or play hangman on it with your little ones.
  • Tear it up and add it to your compost heap – it will be a welcome addition to a mix that’s rich in kitchen scraps, and you can later use it to enrich your garden soil.
  • If you have an open fire in your house, shredded or torn paper makes excellent tinder, and scrunched up paper makes perfect kindling. Use your junk mail to keep warm, and cut your heating bills in winter!
  • Add paper to a bonfire outside.
  • Shred your paper and use it as pet bedding. It’s ideal for sleepy rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, and so on. Newspaper is best for this purpose, but otherwise, just check the paper you use is printed with non-toxic ink.
  • Reuse your paper as gift wrap. If you have some pretty paper, some plain paper, or some newspaper even – get wrapping! It will save you money on buying new wrapping paper, and save paper twice over.
  • Clean your windows: The newspaper and vinegar combination is a classic for cleaning glass, mirrors and windows.
  • Make seedling pots, and grow plants in your garden.
  • Use unwanted paper as a packaging material when you next have to send something fragile through the post.
  • You could donate your old magazines to places such as health centres, dental health centres, or nursing homes – places with waiting rooms or people who love to read.
  • You could use strips of card or leaflets as bookmarks.
  • Why not line your salad and vegetable drawers in the fridge with newspaper to keep them dry and clean?
  • If you need to ripen some fruit, wrap it in newspaper, or pop it inside a paper bag.

Ideas for kids & craft fans

  • Make a paper chain or garland from scrap paper.
  • Make a paper airplane and fly it through the air.
  • Cardboard toilet roll and kitchen roll tubes are a dream come true for imaginative children – they could become a rocket, a robot leg, a fort, a house…
  • Make some paper envelopes to save buying new ones – this looks especially effective with magazine pages featuring some stunning imagery.
  • Make a notepad, by attaching lots of scrap paper together.
  • Do some origami – fold your scrap paper into beautiful shapes, which you could give as gifts or display in your home.
  • Make paper beads, which you can then use to make your own jewellery.
  • Create beautiful homemade cards from pictures you cut out from old ones.
  • Make gift tags from old greeting cards too – why buy new ones?

Can you think of any other paper reuse ideas? Please let us know in the comments below.

Featured image credit: deagreez

Published by

Lucy Ravenhall

Lucy is a long-standing editor of the Forge Recycling blog and loves writing about her environmental passions.