13 Ideas for reusing paper and cardboard

Welcome to day five of Zero Waste Week.

In years past I’ve written seven days worth of content, but in the words of a particularly famous person “That’s all folks!” for this years content.

We’re finishing this year’s Zero Waste Week with reusing paper and cardboard:

Luggage tags

Only last month I had the opportunity to get creative with an old cardboard box!

Little Miss Green was going on a trip, had all her luggage together but hadn’t labelled it.

No worries; with a flick of the scissors and a quick hole punch, we made our own luggage tags:



You can use cardboard in two ways on your compost heap.

Either shred and add as a valuable ‘brown’ (you need 50/50 mix of green (wet) and brown (dry) ingredients by VOLUME for healthy compost) or layer over the top in winter to add as an insulator – a warm compost heap works more efficiently.

Make biodegradable pots

Biodegradable pots are expensive, but you can make your own from something you usually throw away or recycle!

Toilet roll inners are perfect. Check out the video below to see how simple this is!

Gardeners best friend

I’m beginning to think cardboard is the wonder material for gardeners!

I use egg boxes to chit potatoes and grow seedlings in – what could be easier?

reuse egg boxes to chit potatoes

Feed the birds

This is a cute idea – not one for the rain, but at least it will biodegrade.

Make a bird feeder from an old cardboard box:


Store your reusable bags

You’re all reusing your carrier bags by now, so you need somewhere to store them.

What about an old tissue box?



Offer to a body shop

Our local shop keeps their cardboard boxes to give to our local car body shop.

They, in turn, use the cardboard to put over car windows when spray painting.

One man’s trash…


 Get your craft on

I think these baskets are a brilliant way to use up old newspapers and a nice craft project for slightly older children.

I feel a few Christmas presents coming on!


Seed packets

I know some of you are busy reusing things around the home to make Christmas presents as part of your Zero Waste Week pledge.

I HEART these seed packs – you’ll find a tutorial here which you can use as a template on your own paper stash that needs using up.


Wrap gifts

The number of times we’ve wrapped gifts for one another, here at Zero Waste towers, with newspaper I can’t count.

But you know what? With some old fashioned raffia, the gifts look just as good as those wrapped with expensive paper.

We’ve also used magazine pages for small items, sheet music and even old maps:



Even if you’ve reduced junk mail by signing up for the Mail Preference Service, you’ll still get envelopes through the door.

Why not open them carefully and reuse? Or at least write your shopping list on the back of them before finally recycling them.


Shredded paper

Maybe you’ve shredded some old bank statements.

Some local authorities won’t recycle shredded paper, so what can you do?

Offer it on a gifting site such as Freegle for pet owners, use as a packing material for fragile gifts or add small amounts to the compost heap.


Make Confetti!

Got a wedding coming up? Empty out the hole punch and voilà – you’re own free confetti.

Just make sure there are no toxic inks or colours that will run on the beautiful bride dress!




If you drink juice or buy items like tomatoes or long life milk in Tetra Pak cartons, these can be recycled closer to home than you think!

The cartons are composite material made from rolls of printed paperboard laminated with polythene on the outside and with foil and polythene on the inside.

At the moment a whopping 91% of local authorities offer carton recycling, while 57% collect cartons from peoples homes at the kerbside.

Don’t believe me? Click here to find your local Tetra Pak recycling facility



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Rachelle Strauss

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