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Ways to Recycle or Reuse Paper

Updated on October 14, 2014

More Than 20 Ways to Recycle or Reuse Paper at Home

Paper piles up fast in most homes. Mail, school papers, and newspapers are just a few types of paper that stream in daily. According to "Recycled Crafts Box," by Laura C. Martin, the average American consumes a whopping 750 pounds of paper each year! That's a lot of paper.

Paper has been around for thousands of years. When exposed to the environment, paper will eventually break down and decompose, so it doesn't present a landfill problem like plastic. However, you can reduce your consumption of paper by getting rid of unwanted junk mail. Eco*Cycle.org can help you eliminate junk mail and stop solicitations.

Some paper is unavoidable. Here's a fact to motivate us to recycle: It takes much LESS fuel to make new paper from old paper than it does to produce new paper from raw materials. Save the trees and reduce fuel consumption by recycling.

But before you carry your paper to the recycle center, is there a way to reuse it? Get the most out of the paper you already have by trying the practical and crafty ideas below to reuse it before you recycle it.

Make Your Own Paper at Home - Recycle Used Paper into New Paper

A great craft project for young children is to recycle your own paper at home. You can puree used paper and water in a blender and dry it on a screen to make your own recycled craft paper. It makes a thick sturdy paper perfect for special notes or invitations. Add food coloring to create colored paper. Detailed instructions on how to do this yourself are below.

How to Recycle Paper at Home

Photo by HSSchulte

Reuse Paper as Beads

If you have a scrap booking tool that cuts paper shapes, you can reuse paper to create these cool beads. The author of this tutorial, uses the pages of old books, but any paper can be used including colored paper. A string of them would make a very interesting way to decorate a girls room, or any other room you had in mind.

Reuse Paper as Beads

Reuse Paper before Recycling

Ways to Reuse Paper

Paper can quickly fill a recycle bin, how about trying these things to reuse paper before recycling it.

1. Shred it and use it for packing material.

2. Reuse the blank side of paper to make lists, print things on the printer, or let the kids color.

3. Compost it

4. Use it as kindling for a fire.

When using the first two reuse ideas above, go ahead and recycle the paper when you are finished reusing it. The last two ideas eliminate the need for recycling the paper.

Photo by HSSchulte

Paper Trash Can - Another Way to Reuse Paper

Lovething posted this amazing idea for a reused paper trash can on the Craftster forum. It is simply genius. The small paper strips are rolled and glued. Then they are stacked together to form this trash can. As she states in her forum post there are so many other possibilities. Magazine pages were used in the photo. Since I prefer an earthy look, I would use brown paper, such as paper grocery sacks.

How to Make a Garbage Can from Reused Paper

Reuse Paper to Make Bracelets

This tutorial reminds us that any paper (from white paper to brown bag paper) can be jazzed up using computer art. To make a bracelet from computer printed art, cut it out and cover it with packing tape. Add some Velcro for a stylish homemade bracelet. Young girls may have fun personalizing them with names and exchanging them with their friends.

Reuse Paper as a Bracelet

Recycled Craft for Boxes from Greeting Card Paper
Recycled Craft for Boxes from Greeting Card Paper

Greeting Card Box

Crafty Way to Reuse Paper

Have you ever gotten a special card that you wanted to save, but it just ended up in a drawer or closet? This recycled craft creates a box from a greeting card. Use Christmas, Valentine's day, or birthday cards to create these cute storage boxes. You will need a ruler and some scissors.

How to Make a Box from a Greeting Card

Book Safe to Reuse an Old Paper Book
Book Safe to Reuse an Old Paper Book

Altered Book Safe

Mysterious Way to Reuse Paper as a Recycled Craft Safe

An idea perfect for any mystery lover. A hardback book that can no longer be read, can be repurposed into a book safe. It makes a perfect gift for a child who loves hidden treasure. A very sharp knife and a hot glue gun is required to complete this project.

Altered Book Safe to Reuse an Old Paper Book

Paper Mache - Crafty Way to Reuse Paper

Paper mache is a great way to create an artistic figurine or a pinata for a party. Paper mache usually starts with a frame for the paper. The frame can be made of wire, such as a coat hanger, balloons, or any lightweight material that will hold the paper in place. Use various materials to construct the frame in the shape you want. It can be the shape of a fish, cartoon character, bicycle, ball, or anything else your heart desires.

Once the frame is in place, paper is dipped in a flour and water mixture that acts as glue. Use the flour glue to add many layers of paper over the frame. After it is covered, allow it to dry. Once dry, you can paint the paper mache art. More detailed instructions are below:

How to Make a Paper Mache Fish

Shaped Recycled Paper
Shaped Recycled Paper

Recycle Paper at Home

Another variation to the homemade paper above, is to use only one color of colored paper. (If you use more than one color the overall outcome will be gray.) Alternatively, you can use white paper and add food coloring to the mix. Make the paper as explained above, accept when you are spreading it out to dry, place it inside a form to shape it, such as a cookie cutter.

How to Make Recycled Paper Note Cards

Make a Weaving from Old Cards
Make a Weaving from Old Cards

Reuse Magazine Pages to Make a Magazine Holder!

Reuse Magazine Pages to Make a Magazine Holder!
Reuse Magazine Pages to Make a Magazine Holder!

Make a Weaving by Reusing a Paper Card

If you have a special card that you don't want to throw away, this is another great way to craft with it and keep it around. This is a weaving craft and ideal for young children, curtosy of Education.com

Weave a Card

Make Your Own Personalized Gift Bags - by reusing old paper bags

Here is a cute way to personalize an old paper bag. (The one you got when you forgot to take your reusable bag to the store.) All you need is a few household items:

Brown paper bag or an old gift bag

Handmade paper(s)

Glue or Adhesive

Pencil and scissors

... and these instructions from AllFreeCrafts.com.

Inexpensive Wall Art - Reuse Paper to Decorate

Another idea for reusing special cards, photos, or pictures that you enjoy from a magazine is to reuse them as wall art. With the proper frame any type of photo can hang on the wall. Get more ideas for reusing paper as framed wall art at:

Wall Art by AllFreeCrafts

RePlayGround has some more ideas for ways to reuse paper as gift wrap. An ideal way to put above the ordinary paper to work. Sheet music, magazine pages, comics, book pages, etc., all make unique gift wrap and bows. See how many types of old paper you can think of to use as gift wrap.

RePlayGround's Wrapping Paper from Used Paper

Paper Bows from Reused Paper - How to Make Paper Bows from Recycled Wrapping Paper

You can reuse old wrapping paper to make the clever paper bows. You will need:

* old wrapping paper to reuse

* scissors

* a ruler

* tape

* old scraps of cardboard to reuse

Bows from Reused Paper by AllFreeCrafts

Paper beads are a fun way to reuse junk mail. The beads can be worn as bracelets and necklaces, or used to decorate key chains and backpacks. How many ways can you come up with to use these cute beads?

Paper Beads from Old Magazines

More Resources for Reusing Paper from Amazon

What do you do with your paper?

What Do You Do with Your Paper?

See results

Reuse Paper - Recycle Bag from News Paper

Wrapping Paper

Questions and Comments About Reusing Paper - Leave them here!

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    • LadyLovelace LM profile image

      LadyLovelace LM 6 years ago

      Making paper beads is another awesome way to reuse paper - great lens!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I save the gold and silver backs from my Christmas cards to cut up and use when I make valentines.

    • profile image

      gravityx9 6 years ago

      Super Lens! I have featured it with my lens 'It's Good to be Green', ! THUMBS UP *SEE IT HERE*

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      These are very useful for anyone who would be looking for ideas on how they can reuse paper. It is also a great source of information for students who are still thinking on what school project they can do that is related to recycling. May it be a big piece of newspaper or a strip of shredded (for shredding: http://www.texas-shredding.com)paper, you can really do a lot with it.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is an excellent lens and great ideas on reusing paper ~ awesome job! :)

    • nichevalue profile image

      nichevalue 6 years ago

      Cool ideas - Love the paper trash can idea. Would make an awesome craft for our children.

      ***YOU'VE BEEN INKED!***

      https://hubpages.com/community/got-ink-2

    • profile image

      I001l01I02l 5 years ago

      this is so cool! i really like the trash can, i'm a bit messy, really. And i care for the environment though i use up a lot of paper. great lens!

    • FunkyJewelleryUK profile image

      FunkyJewelleryUK 5 years ago

      Great lens! Some brilliant ideas! I make jewellery using recycled products and everyday objects, including using recycled paper! Love it. Nice work :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      wonderful website

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      My father once tried to paper a wall using brown paper grocery sacks. Unfortunately, it did not work. The glue soaked through the paper unevenly and left ugly splotches on the wall. Not to mention, there were too many seams going in every direction! I have, however, decoupaged a wall in my bathroom using pictures cut out of magazines. It was easy and fun to do, using modge podge.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Great ideas here for reusing paper. I try to reprint on the clean side of printer paper when possible and always keep paper for notes. If I can't reuse it, I recycle it.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Great batch of ideas for re-using paper. I had an eHow article on making a curly bow out of recycled strips of gift wrap but it's gone now.

    • profile image

      mockingbird999 5 years ago

      I love the paper trash can.

    • profile image

      FarmerTom 5 years ago

      Fanstastic ideas! I too love the paper trash can. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      OMG, this is brilliant. Seriously. And good for you for being so green :) Thank you and our earth thanks you. Wicked cool!!

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 5 years ago from McLaughlin

      What great ideas! I didn't know you could do so many different things with paper. You have me thinking!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      The rolled paper and glued trashcan is fantastic!

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

      I shred a LOT of paper and documents. That shredded paper makes great packing material when you have to box anything up to mail, to store, or when you are moving.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      We soaked the shredded office paper to form a thick mulch for my sister's tomato plants.

    • hsschulte profile image
      Author

      hsschulte 5 years ago

      @Virginia Allain: I've heard of using it as mulch. When I tried it those bright white pieces of paper blew all over my yard. I guess it was because I didn't soak it down properly. Thanks for the tip. Now, I know!

    • mellex lm profile image

      mellex lm 5 years ago from Australia

      I shred my newspaper for the compost, worm farm or I lay it in the garden to prevent weeds.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      I also tried mulching with shredded paper. It worked, but I really didn't like the look. Next time I should put some straw to cover the paper, perhaps.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My granddaughter was visiting and we got to work on paper beads again...her smile said it all! Very well done with ideas that people will actually do because the end result is pleasing to the eye and fun to do.

    • adamfrench profile image

      adamfrench 5 years ago

      Impressive lens, thumbs up

    • Anime-e profile image

      Anime-e 5 years ago

      I would totally do that type of stuff!

    • profile image

      GottaGreenBuzz 5 years ago

      Nice lens! I use paper for wrapping small gifts. This was a good reminder for all to use less paper! You've got me buzzing with some thoughts on this! Thank you.

    • profile image

      Becksta 5 years ago

      Another little tip I tend to use is to not throw out the extra wrapping paper from wrapping big gifts, instead I place it in the middle of the tube and use it to wrap smaller gifts such as Jewelry

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What wonderful ideas here!!!

    • profile image

      Spikey64 5 years ago

      I love the magazine holder I have just got to have a go at that myself.

    • profile image

      totalhealth 5 years ago

      beautiful ways to reuse and recycle papers, the paper trash can is really nice.

    • profile image

      NellinShoppi 5 years ago

      Nice work on the lens! :)

    • fugeecat lm profile image

      fugeecat lm 5 years ago

      I love paper. And there are so many different things I can reuse it as. Thanks for the new ideas.

    • profile image

      MintySea 5 years ago

      nice lens good ideas on reusing paper

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hey I have reviewed your squidoo lens and I really liked it. Because of this I went ahead and âlikeâ you on squidoo. Giving your lens another like.

      When you have time, please take a look at my lens. It is located at

      http://www.squidoo.com/appliance-removal-louisvill...

      If you like my lens, please add a like to my lens as well. I am new to squidoo and I would appreciate any comments at all.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing !! I love to weave and reuse papers for my project , i also Weave a Basket with Handle from old magazine

      and folding a paper case from old magazines or beautiful brochure !

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

    • profile image

      leeleon 5 years ago

      I like your Paper Trash Can. Nice.

      Welcome to see my recycling lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Retuning to bless your excellent, fun, functional and cool ways to reuse paper. I made the paper beads with my granddaughter...oh, the smile and the blues in the paper made her eyes pop.

    • PositiveChristi1 profile image

      PositiveChristi1 5 years ago

      Terrific ideas. I'm now thinking of making some craft paper with my daughter.

      Angel-blessed.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I'm already shredding paper to use as packing material. I stuff the plastic bags newspapers are wrapped in with it and tie the ends so my customers aren't met with a bunch of shredded paper when they open their book boxes.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I have a stack on note paper made out of the reverse side of the ad mailer. Blessed!

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 5 years ago

      Love this lens. Especially liked the paper trash can. Wish there were instructions on how to make it.

    • BuddyBink profile image

      BuddyBink 4 years ago

      I often wrap gifts in old newspaper. I use the Sunday comics if there is a need to be colorful.

    • gatornic15 profile image

      gatornic15 4 years ago

      These are some really great ideas.

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 4 years ago

      Hard to believe people even buy note paper, when there's all that free note space on the back of junk mail!

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 4 years ago

      These are the best paper recycling ideas I have ever seen! I plan on using all of them ASAP! Thanks so much for such a great article and I can really see why you made the upcycling monsterboard! Kudos on a super job!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Wow, so many creative ways to reuse paper! Amazing. Very nice lens.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      nice lens. We always try to reuse of recycle paper.

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 4 years ago from Albany New York

      Wonderful ideas, especially to reuse cards you have received. I always hate to discard them....Blessed

    • profile image

      LakesHiker 4 years ago

      Loved the magazine holder, great idea!

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 4 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      I can't wait to try some of these ideas. I especially like the magazine basket.

    • EcoLogik profile image

      EcoLogik 4 years ago

      Great ideas on recycling paper. Nice lens!

    • LovelyMom77 profile image

      LovelyMom77 4 years ago

      I did not realize there were so many different ways to recycle paper. I love the wastebasket idea!

    • LovelyMom77 profile image

      LovelyMom77 4 years ago

      I did not realize there were so many different ways to recycle paper. I love the waste basket idea!

    • BobZau profile image

      Bob Zau 4 years ago

      Awesome lens. I recycle everything I can.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      So good n 3-4 Rs classfy it stait for waste management strategies.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Excellent lens - this is all good, and I spent too much time here. :) blessed.........

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i want to make the recycled garbage can

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i did not know that there many ways in reusing, recyling the paper into many awesome things such as bracelets, basket etc

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      bad guy

    • TarahFlesch profile image

      TarahFlesch 4 years ago

      Cool ideas! :)

    • profile image

      JeremyRustling 4 years ago

      @TarahFlesch: Agreed!

    • HughLasso profile image

      HughLasso 4 years ago

      Very cool ideas! We need more recyclers in the world

    • profile image

      laurenrich 4 years ago

      Excellent lens. I love the trash cans. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ibexing profile image

      Ibexing 4 years ago

      I love some of your ideas for reusing paper. my favorite is the waste paper bin...

    • WeeCatCreations1 profile image

      Susan Caplan McCarthy 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Fantastic craft ideas. Love the "trash" trash can and the magazine magazine holder.

    • WeeCatCreations1 profile image

      Susan Caplan McCarthy 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Fantastic craft ideas. Love the "trash" trash can and the magazine magazine holder.

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