Old newspaper ready for craft project

34 uses for old newspapers

When you’ve finished reading the newspaper, don’t throw it away. Our throwaway culture is leaving a massive hole in the planet's natural resources.
  Published:  28 Jul 2017    |      Last updated:  02 Feb 2022    |      4 minute read

From paper recycling to arts and crafts, there are loads of uses for your old paper. It's time to get creative to save the Earth's natural resources.

Here are 34 fantastic ways to recycle yours. 

1. Cleaning windows

Using an old newspaper to clean windows works better than a cloth for preventing streaks. For even better results, use a vinegar-and-water solution instead of a chemical cleaner.

2. Shelf lining

Reuse old papers to line your cabinet, dresser, pantry or bathroom shelves. They're cheaper than shop-bought shelf liners, and they’re easy to put in and replace.

3. Cat litter box liners

Place sheets of paper in the bottom of your cat’s box, under the litter. You’ll save on litter, and any odours and wetness will be absorbed.

4. Barbecue cleaner

Turn off the barbecue and allow it to cool a little. Soak newspaper in water, lay the sheets over the warm barbecue grill, close the lid and leave for approximately an hour. Then simply remove the paper and wipe the grill clean.

5. Packing material

Newspaper is a great substitute for bubble wrap. To pack a box with fragile contents, first wrap the items individually. Place them in the box, separated by crumpled paper. Then fill any remaining space with crumpled paper. If you have a lot of old paper, use a paper shredder to make piles of great packaging material. Whoever receives your gift can avoid adding to the world's waste and put your papery packaging straight in their home recycling bin.

6. Weed killer

If weeds are a problem in your garden, cover the flower beds with newspaper and soak them with water. Then cover the paper with compost or mulch. Eventually the paper will smother the weeds, and the organic matter will help your garden flourish.

7. Papier mache

Keep your kids entertained with this fun craft activity. With just newspaper and glue you can make whatever you can think of.

8. Fire starter

Fed up of old news? Use crumpled up bits of old newspaper to start a bonfire, charcoal grill or camp fire.

9. Shape keeper

Ensure that your shoes and bags maintain their shape by stuffing them with crumpled newspaper after use.

10. Fruit and vegetable drawer liner

Place sheets of newspaper at the bottom of the fruit and vegetable drawer in your fridge. They will absorb any mess from rotten produce, and will also keep the drawer free from odours.

11. Ripen tomatoes

Wrap green tomatoes in sheets of old newsprint, layer them in a box and put a lid on top – they will eventually ripen up to a lovely red colour.

12. Stain protection

When using stain-prone products such as paint or shoe polish, place newspaper down before you start, to prevent soiling your carpet or furniture.

13. Car floor covers

Lay folded newspaper on the floor of your vehicle – it will absorb water and help keep dirt off the carpet.

14. Fireplace logs

Roll up newspapers and tie them tightly with string to make makeshift logs. You can then use them in your fireplace, saving on wood.

15. Camping aid

Put several sheets of newspaper underneath your sleeping bag when you go camping. This will keep your bag dry, free from dirt and grass stains, and will provide a warm padding.

16. Table padding

Lay newspaper underneath a table cloth on your kitchen or dining room table. It’s an excellent replacement for expensive padding, and will help protect your table from spills and other damage.

17. Shoe and boot mat

Place a folded-up newspaper beside the door and keep wet and muddy footwear on it to prevent staining the carpet.

18. Shoe deodoriser

Crumple up balls of newspaper and stuff them into smelly shoes. Leave overnight and discard – and any odours will have disappeared.

19. Gift wrapping

No time to pop to Paperchase? Wrap birthday gifts with old newspaper. If you have time, you can even cut thin strips to make a decorative bow to top it all off.

20. Book covers

Newspaper works just as well as shop-bought covers for scrapbook or exercise books. To tell the books apart once they’re covered, use a section of the paper that mirrors the subject of the book.

21. Cheap rags

Replace rags with old newspaper when cleaning paint brushes, removing oil stains and mopping up petrol spills.

22. Storing fruit

Wrapping apples in old newspaper somewhere dry will keep them from rotting.

23. Draught proofing

Use folded up newspaper to plug any gaps in your windows or doors and cut your heating bills.

24. Windscreen cover

Reuse newspaper in the cold — lay it across your car windscreen during winter to protect it from frost.

25. Carpet underlining

If you have a foam-backed carpet, lay newspaper down on the floor underneath it. This will help protect the carpet, and will stop it sliding.

26. Protect outdoor plants

If a cold snap is coming, cover outdoor plants with sheets of newspaper, and secure them to plant stems with clothes pins. This only works if the weather is dry.

27. Clearing up broken glass

First, pick up and dispose of the larger pieces wrapped in old newspaper. Then carefully blot the surrounding area with a few sheets of wet newspaper – the shards of glass will stick to the damp wad of paper.

28. Seedling pot

Layer several sheets of paper on top of each other and shape them into a makeshift container for germinating seedlings.

29. Oven cleaner

Don’t waste paper towels on cleaning up any residue in your oven – mop it up with a few sheets of moistened, crumpled newspaper.

30. Unscrewing a broken light bulb

Reuse a wad of old newspaper to unscrew a hot light bulb and prevent burning your fingers.

31. Compost material

Add moderate amounts of wet, shredded newspaper to your compost heap and give earthworms a tasty treat.

32. Insect traps

If your garden is under siege from earwigs, dispose of them by making your own environmentally-friendly traps. Simply roll up a wet newspaper, tie it with a rubber band, and leave in the infested area overnight. By morning the bugs will have gone.

33. Car wheel traction

Keep a stack of newspapers in the boot of your car during the winter months to prevent getting stuck on a patch of ice or slush. Placing a wad under each rear wheel will help get your car back on the road.

34. Removing musty odours

Crumple newspaper — or any other kind of old paper — and place in a suitcase for a couple of weeks to remove stale smells.

.... and don't forget, if you don't want to reuse your old paper you can recycle old newspapers at home by putting them in your council recycling bin. 


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