It’s easy to recycle newspapers by dropping them in the recycling bin at your local recycling centre. Maybe your local authority even collects them? But there are many useful things you can do with a newspaper rather than drop it in a bin.

In any case recycling paper isn’t an ideal solution. Each time paper is recycled what actually happens is downcycling to a lower grade of paper. It’s much more efficient to find another use for newspapers if you can.

Here are some ideas ranging from the practical to the creative…

19 original ways to recycle newspapers

  1. Handmade paper. Follow this wiki to turn plain old newspaper into decorative recycled paper and check out the video for extra tips. Try mixing a handful of wildflower seeds into the pulp so your recipients can plant the paper.

  2. Papier mâché. This is the raw material for a thousand craft projects.

  3. Compost. Newspaper helps to balance the ratio of carbon and nitrogen in your compost heap. Shred it first to give it a head start. Most newspapers use plant-based inks so there’s no risk of contaminating your compost. However if you’re concerned that the inks may be non-organic first check with the printer.

    No compost heap? You can also use newspapers with trench-composting. Simply dig a hole or trench about a foot wide then add newspaper, covering with a board or bricks until it’s full enough to cover over with soil.

    Vermiculture uses worms to break down organic waste. Damp newspaper torn into strips is ideal as bedding for the worms.

  4. Plant protection against frost.

  5. Weed barrier. Lay out thick sheets of newspaper on the soil to limit the growth of weeds.

  6. Knitting yarn. This is low tech and easy: all you need is one of these spindles like in the video below. You can recycle newspapers into yarn for remarkable knitting or crochet craft projects.

  7. Wrapping paper. A chic wrapping option when paired with ribbon. Select an appropriate page such as the sports pages for a sports fan and play around with how you position the headlines and the pictures.

  8. Fruit-ripening wraps. Wrap under-ripe fruit in newspaper to promote ripening.

  9. Window cloth. It couldn’t be simpler and the results are streak-free. Crumple up some newspaper and wipe down with a mixture of water and vinegar. Dry afterwards with dry newspaper.

  10. Polishing cloth. Shine up stainless steel surfaces by gently rubbing with wet newspaper.

  11. Origami paper. Newspaper is less resistant to tearing than purpose-made origami paper but it’s just as much fun.

    origami newspaper

  12. Shape preserver for shoes, hats and handbags.

  13. Wrapping material. Wrap fragile items in newspaper rather than bubble wrap and pad the box with crumpled newspaper to protect them in transit.

    Perhaps you have more newspapers than you could use yourself? If so, have a look online to see where you could donate them. A local animal shelter for bed liners, charity shops for wrapping material, a garden allotment for weed barriers… consider all the uses in this article and you’ll see that there are many places that could use your old newspapers.

    1. Odour absorber. Place crumpled-up newspaper in a suitcase and leave for a few weeks to remove stale odours.

    2. Shoe deodorisers. Stuff newspaper into wet shoes and leave overnight to dry and deodorise.

    3. Absorbent mat for odour and liquid. Line the bottom drawer of the fridge with a newspaper to soak up liquids and odours.

    4. Animal bed liners. Use newspapers to line beds and cages for quick disposal. Shred them for kitty litter.

    5. Car-seat protectors for muddy hiking trips.

    6. Fire starter logs. Roll up newspapers tightly and use in the fire instead of ready-made starter logs.

    Of course you won’t have to find a way to recycle newspapers if you avoid buying them in the first place! You could try reading the news online, maybe start with one day a week to see how you like it?

    You’ll find more recycling tips and other ecofriendly ideas in the article 15 tips for a zero waste kitchen.

    Despite your best efforts to reduce newsprint in your life you’ll probably still get the odd free newspaper as junk mail but now you know all the good things to try before throwing it in the recycling bin.

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