Over the past couple of decades, Americans has gone crazy for recycling. Most communities have a recycling program, and we feel good about saving our cans, bottles, boxes and newspapers and putting them at our curbs for a weekly pick-up.
But long before the phrase “reduce, reuse and recycle” was ever coined, your grandparents used their old newspapers for a wide variety of tasks.
As you develop a more frugal lifestyle, it is time to think of all the many ways you can repurpose newspapers in your own home and garden. Here are 12:
1. Glass and window cleaner. Crimple up some newspaper and then dip it into a mixture of one part white vinegar and three parts water. You will get streak-free results that are much better than with any chemical-laden commercial window cleaner and cloth. Hint: Wear rubber gloves. The newsprint will not transfer to your windows, but it might get on your hands if you’re not careful.
2. Fire starter. Try tightly rolled pieces of newspaper as fire starters for your fireplace, bonfire or outdoor grill.
3. Seed pots. You can make your own seed pots by following these easy steps:
- Cut sheets of newspaper in halves or thirds, depending on the size of seed pot you want. Avoid pages with color because the ink contains heavy metals.
- Roll the newspaper so that it circles a glass jar or aluminum can with a few inches of paper, also extending above the opening of the container.
- Push the paper that is above the container opening inside, so that the pieces are securely wrapped around the lip of the jar or can.
- Turn the container over and gently remove the jar or cup.
- Use the bottom of the jar or can to tamp down the inverted ends, so the bottom of the newspaper pot is secure.
- Add soil and seeds, and the seed pot is ready to plant. The newspaper holds moisture so that your growing plant will not be over- or under-watered.
4. Weed barrier. Use newsprint to block weeds out of a raised bed. Simply cover the bed with layers of newspaper and water the paper before you fill the bed with dirt and other organic matter. The newsprint will help keep weeds out and moisture in.
5. Gift wrap. Forget store-bought wrapping paper. Newsprint works great. You can even customize your gifts by using the sports sections for sports fans, the fashion section for the fashionistas on your gift list or the Sunday comics for kids. Shredded newspaper also makes for a great filling for gift baskets or gift bags.
6. Packing. You can use your newspaper to wrap your valuables when you are moving or shipping items. It is lightweight, effective and you can’t beat the cost.
7. Liner paper. Use your newspaper to line drawers and shelves in your pantry or in your refrigerator. It will help absorb spills and odors.
8. Fruit ripener. Did you know you could hasten the ripening process along of certain fruits by wrapping them in newspaper? The next time you have under-ripe avocadoes, peaches or other fruit, give this trick a try.
9. Compost. Add strips of newspaper into your worm bin and mix well with your grass clippings. The paper helps absorb odors and makes a great bedding for your worms.
10. Kitty litter box. Use newspaper to line you litter box. It is cheap and effective. You also can use layers of newspaper to housetrain your new puppy.
11. Shoe and boot shaper. Use rolls of newspaper in your shoes, boots and handbags to help them keep their shape between wearing or using.
12. Furniture and counter protector. Do you have a messy cooking or cleaning job to do? Place sheets of newspaper down on your work surface before you begin. It not only protects your floors and furniture from damage, but it makes clean-up a breeze.
Newspapers are printed on uncoated ground wood paper (called newsprint), which is made by grinding wood pulp without removing the lignin and other components of wood pulp.
By weight and volume, newspapers are the largest part of most curbside recycling program. Before you throw this Sunday’s paper in the recycling pile, why not first think about all the jobs you can do with it yourself?
What are other ways you can re-use old newspapers? Share your advice in the section below: