Don’t Toss Old Printouts! 19 Uses for Used Paper
We all waste more paper than intended. Recycling is important, but it’s more than just sorting old sheets of paper into the right bin. You can recycle by reusing, thereby extending the life of the product.
So, next time you make mistakes printing, or throw old school papers in the bin, stop, and think. It can almost certainly be recycled. To prove it, here are 19 ways you can reuse scrap paper.
1. Reuse Printed Paper: Flip It Over to Print on the Unused Side
If only one side has been used, why not just flip the sheet over and print on the other side?
Of course, this depends on what you’re printing—you obviously don’t want to do this with something important. But if you’re printing for personal use, such as an online receipt, then why not save paper in this way?
2. Turn Scrap Paper Into a Wallet
It might not be the most durable wallet you’ve owned (compared to leather), but a paper wallet works, nonetheless. Better still, it’s completely customizable! Depending on what you’ve misprinted, the resulting wallet could be absolutely stunning, although plain paper might be more your style.
3. Paper CD/DVD Holder
While optical media is on its way out, many of us still have the occasional case-less CD or DVD laying around. Rather than leave them to pick up scratches before you save the disc images to your hard drive, try this. With just a few folds of a standard sheet of waste paper you’ll have a paper CD wallet.
If your disc is scratched, you might be able to do something about it. Here’s how to repair a DVD and back up your data .
4. Paper Pen & Pencil Holder
Need to tidy up your desk? This video tutorial demonstrates how to build a DIY origami pen holder, 20x20cm, using just two pieces of paper. The result is a pleasing holder for pens and pencils—you’ll never lose them again!
5. Make Your Own Notepad or Sketchbook
If you’ve output a lot of old paper through your printer, you can bundle the sheets together as a notepad.
Just bind sheets with a bulldog clip and you have paper ready for jotting down quick reminders and more. Write stories, doodle, plan home improvements, sketch, make to-do lists, whatever.
6. Origami Gift Boxes
Another way to reuse scratch paper is to use it for gift boxes. With origami, you can craft boxes of all sizes, particularly useful for Christmas or birthday trinkets. And if the wasted printout was colorful (perhaps a photo that didn’t quite print right), you’ve got a unique gift box.
You’re not limited to gift boxes, either. Use them to organize your desk and store paperclips, erasers, thumbtacks, whatever!
7. DIY Sticky Notes
Rather than buy sticky notes, use scrap paper instead. Just cut sheets of old paper into squares, stick double-sided tape on the back and you have a sticky note. Whenever you need to stick a note somewhere, you can have one ready in seconds!
8. Awesome Paper Airplanes From Old Paper
One of the best uses for old paper is undoubtedly the construction of paper airplanes. We’ve all done it with a scrap sheet of paper, but have we been doing it right?
This video shows you how to make a paper plane that will fly, and fly, and fly.
9. Make a Simple Bookmark
Another great idea to reuse scrap paper is to cut it into 300mm wide strips to make bookmarks. Simply take two or three strips then stick them together with glue or tape, for a more durable result. Maybe even punch a hole in the top and tie a small loop of string to complete your custom bookmark.
10. Draw an Optical Illusion
Learning how to draw is a great way to use spare paper—and what better than an optical illusion?
This example is a great one to start with, requiring just a scrap of paper, a pencil, and a pen. It’s an anamorphic illusion, which means it must be viewed from a particular angle to work.
11. Gift Wrapping Paper
Run out of wrapping paper? Just use waste computer printer paper if the item isn’t too big. Don’t worry about what other people think—just be creative and save some money.
12. Create a Circuit With Pencil and Paper
The graphite in your pencil will conduct a small current, enough to light a bulb. You can test this out with a scrap of unused printer paper, an LED, and a battery. Simply draw the circuit on a sheet of paper, connect the components, and drop your jaw in awe.
13. Shred Old Paper for Packaging
If you own a shredder, turning old printouts of personal data into ribbons is a smart idea. But rather than recycling it right away, use it for packing material instead. It’s greener than foam packing peanuts and gets some wastepaper out of your house.
14. Make a Paper Popper
Let’s make some noise! If you want to startle someone, just fold some paper into a popper. This “air banger” can make a real crack, so be careful who you use it on.
15. Waste Paper Greeting cards
Homemade cards for birthdays and other occasions add a nice personal touch.
Simply fold the old printed sheet of paper in half, or for a little more durability, fold it in quarters. This is particularly useful to hide any inadvertent old print jobs! When you’re ready, decorate it however you’d like.
16. Simple Paper Pop Gun
Something more offensive than a greetings card is a pop gun. With just a few sheets of scratch paper, elastic bands, and sticky tape, you can fire small pellets at targets.
It’s a little more intensive than some of the scrap paper projects we’ve suggested, but worth a go.
17. Paper Crossbow
If you’ve got a paper pop gun, why not find someone to shoot at? They could probably do with their own weapon—which is where the paper crossbow comes in.
This is perhaps the most advanced scrap paper project on this list, requiring a few tools and a glue gun.
18. Make Some Paper Claws
Whether you’re dressing up for Halloween, cosplay, or a theatrical performance, these paper claws make a real impression. More wolf than Wolverine, they’re designed to slip onto each finger. Add some color and these paper claws suddenly look more than just paper.
19. Scrap Paper Mask
You might even team up your paper claws with a corresponding paper mask… or just make a different mask altogether.
Scrap paper, whether from your printer or old papers from school, is ideal for making a paper mask. Either follow the guide above or look further afield. You might even tear up used paper for papier-mâché.
Hundreds of Uses for Scrap Paper
You have so many options to reuse paper you would normally throw away. Just be creative and think about what you need—you’ll discover how you can make it without spending money.
Checking YouTube or using a search engine is a good way to start. You’ll also find plenty of creative ideas on Pinterest.
Want more uses for unused printouts? Try these printable board games .
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