Don’t Toss Old Printouts! 19 Uses for Used Paper

Christian Cawley Updated 13-05-2020

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 How to Repair Damaged CDs or DVDs and Recover Data If your CD or DVD is scratched, you may be able to fix it! Here are some tips on how to repair a scratched CD or DVD. Read More .

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 9 Awesome Free Printable Board Games Here are some great free printable board games and printable card games to get you started in your new hobby. Read More .

Related topics: DIY Project Ideas, Green Technology, Recycling.

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  1. Bubbalou
    May 21, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    Stop buying toilet paper!

  2. dragonmouth
    May 13, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    To add to the list, you can use the output of your shredder to start the fire in your wood burning stove. Two things are accomplished:
    1) Makes starting the fire much easier
    2) If you're paranoid, it make sure that your shredded sensitive documents are really destroyed.

  3. tniah
    January 7, 2016 at 12:49 am

    can you make a house.

  4. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    February 17, 2013 at 11:51 am

    You can make a whole bouquet with paper. Search for flower origami instructions (I can make rose, tulip, and some others)-it works much better if your paper is colorful. If you don't like flowers, there are other decorations that can be made with origami.

    • dragonmouth
      February 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      "You can make a whole bouquet with paper."

      Reminds me of "Paper Roses", a 1976 song by Marie Osmond. :)

  5. Buster Olson
    February 15, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Hint: Use Padding Glue/Compound to make your own notepads/memo pads.

  6. Kirby
    February 15, 2013 at 4:01 am

    I've been using the paper CD case for several years now. Why waste money to buy a CD case ?

    I've also placed shredded paper inside my hamster's aquarium and keep on replaceing it every week or so. It's much cheaper and easier to find than saw dust.

    Also using the back of used paper as scrap paper to take down notes and other stuff.

  7. Tyson West
    February 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Fifty bucks says that Aaron Couch is getting a slot on 'Hoarders' less than eleven months from now.

  8. dragonmouth
    February 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    For years I have been reusing paper in all the ways you mention except for the 3D projects. I remember, back in the last millennium, there was no commercially made pretty book covers and/or paper folders. So we made book covers and folders out of any large pieces of heavy gauge paper. We used brown paper bags and/or holiday wrapping paper. Not only is it environmentally friendly but it is also wallet friendly.

  9. Jacques Knipe
    February 14, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Oh my goodness I am going to have so much fun with this! Thanks for the awesome article! This one goes to my favorite article list.
    I always make CD cases out of the paper I can't write on anymore. Same goes for the origami, but I keep it simple (like the ninja star and origami box).

  10. Alberto Lerma
    February 14, 2013 at 5:19 am

    DUDE!! the wallet paper and cd case are awesome!! Thank you!! tomorrows gift will be 13.8% cooler!!