The U.S. publishes over 24 billion newspapers every year, and that’s not the only place that newsprint turns up. People use it to wrap packaging, to print junk mail fliers, and to create coupons. All told, that is tons and tons of paper waste every single year.
Recycling paper is a great way to put a dent in this waste, but paper recycling is far from an ideal solution. It’s inefficient, and each time you recycle paper, you’re really downcycling it into an inferior product.
We don’t get a paper at our house, but we still end up with our fair share of newsprint somehow. Sometimes, a fragile thrift store or yard sale find comes wrapped in newspaper. Other times, we get junk mail printed on newsprint. No matter how newsprint manages to creep into your life, I’m guessing that you cringe at the thought of wasting it, too.
Rather than toss all of that paper in the recycle bin, you can reuse old newspaper around your home and in the garden!
1. Clean windows or glass. Dip crumpled newspaper into water mixed with a splash of white vinegar, and clean those windows up without any streaks or harmful chemicals!
2. Burn it up. Instead of a starter log in the fireplace or at a bonfire, use tightly rolled pieces of newsprint instead.
3. Make a weed barrier. If you’re building a raised bed, lay out pieces of newspaper before you fill it up with dirt. The paper will help keep weeds from invading.
4. Wrap some gifts. It’s fun to go through your papers to find cute and colorful pages to use as gift wrap. When I was a kid, we loved wrapping presents up in the Sunday funnies.
5. Pack it up. Instead of plastic bubble wrap, wrap valuables in newspaper for shipping, and pad your box with more crumpled paper. You can take it a step further and include some ideas in the package for how your recipient can reuse all of that paper, too!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by salimfadhley
6. As origami paper. Cut your newspaper into squares and get folding! Newsprint is great at holding folds. Just be gentle, since it’s a bit more prone to tearing than store bought origami paper.
7. In the fridge. Keep the bottom of the veggie drawer from getting nasty by lining it with newspaper. It will absorb liquid and odors.
8. For ripening fruit. If you’ve picked up some under-ripe peaches, avocados, or other fruit, wrap them in newspaper to ripen them more quickly. Paper bags also work for this.
9. Shine on. Give the shine back to your stainless steel sink by gently scrubbing it with wadded up, wet newspaper.
10. Compost it. Newspaper makes great bedding for a worm bin. Tear into strips and let those red wigglers turn it into gardening gold!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Zarko Drincic
12. Donate them. Your local animal shelter can use newspapers to line their cages. Some even shred them up to use as kitty litter, when the budget is tight. You can also donate them to thrift stores, where they’ll use them to pack up fragile items that sell.
13. Line the puppy crate. Dog owners who are crate training can use old newspapers to line the puppy crate. It makes cleanup much easier when your sweet pup has an accident.
14. Make handmade paper. Grab your blender and turn old newspaper into pretty, recycled paper. Handmade paper is great for making invitations and little cards. You can also mix some seeds into your paper pulp to turn newsprint into recycled seed paper that your recipients can plant!
15. Spin it into yarn. Feeling crafty? If you’ve got a spindle handy, you can whip up recycled newspaper yarn, then knit or crochet your paper into anything you like!
Of course, the best way to reduce the amount of newspaper waste in your life is to avoid picking up a physical newspaper at all. You can read news online or subscribe to a paper on your e-reader instead of buying a paper paper. It’s a little bit harder to stop getting junk mail, but companies like Manilla are working to make that a bit easier.
What other ways have you guys reused old newspaper? Let’s keep the reuse inspiration going in the comments!
Image Credit: Photo by Julie Finn at Crafting a Green World. Used with permission.