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Recycled, Upcycled and Reused Paper Ideas

As a responsible crafter, I try very hard to reuse and recycle all my crafting products. Use and reuse everything that I can is how I craft.

All of these boxes can be used for paper crafts. These are terrific ways to recycle as responsible paper crafters.

All of these boxes can be used for paper crafts. These are terrific ways to recycle as responsible paper crafters.

Why Recycle Paper Crafts?

You might ask yourself: why should should I recycle junk mail, cardboard boxes, magazines and more into paper crafts? And we might answer, why not?

Using Items More Than Once Saves Money!

If you craft, who does not want to save money? There are so many ways to use what you might want to consider garbage into paper crafts. Much of it will cost you little to no money at all, except maybe for some basic staples that you may very well have around your home. Why not save money in your craft space to be put to better use when you can?

It's the Responsible Thing to Do!

Using things at least twice or more helps to conserves on what we send to the landfill. That is responsible crafting! Take, for instance, your ink pads—instead of throwing away that ink pad, the more responsible thing to do would be to get a reinker and extend its life.

We are showing you some ideas to recycle, reuse and craft with the basic "junk" around your home. There is a treasure trove of free materials to use that pass through your hands every day!

Envelopes

Even though snail mail may be on the decline, there are still plenty of envelopes that come through the mail every day. Business envelopes with patterns inside them are especially desirable. They can be made into flowers, shapes, tags and more.

Here are some of our favorite uses for envelopes:

Washi Tape

Those lovely designs inside of envelopes can be made into washi tape using wider double-sided tape. Just cute the envelopes into strips as wide as the tape you are using. Uncover one side of the double-sided tape and attach the envelope strips. Rub the paper down with a bone folder or a brayer. Store the strips and use as needed.

Mini-Envelopes

Use a template to cut and tape pieces of the inside of envelopes to create mini-envelopes. Turn the envelope inside out and use the template to create a shape. Glue the envelope together.

Create an Envelope Journal

  • Cereal or another box from your pantry
  • 4-5 envelopes in the same size
  • Binding bars
  • Bone folders
  • Paper trimmer
  • PVA (white) glue
  • Decorative(patterned) card stock
  • Stamps
  • Stencils
  1. Determine the size of your cover. Measure the envelopes you plan to use Add ¼” to the height and width, then cut out front and back covers from the cardboard box.
  2. Use decorative cardstock, cut to the height of the book minus 1/8″, and 1 ½” wide. The strips are folded in half lengthwise and glue together, matching cut and folded edges, to create this fan-like bar, left. Folding the paper strips with the grain of the paper will prevent them from cracking and breaking. To find the grain, bend the cardstock along two sides, then the other two. The way it bends more easily indicates the grain direction.
  3. Glue the outermost fold of the bar to the inside front cover, aligning it with the spine edge, and do the same with the back cover. Before gluing, make sure your covers are oriented the correct way.
  4. Two pieces of decorative paper are then cut to the same size as the covers and glued over the tabs to the inside covers. The tabs should be sandwiched between the cover and the inside paper, which makes them secure. To make sure your envelope journal covers dry flat, sandwich them between several sheets of scrap paper, place heavy books or a weight on top (make sure to leave the binding bar free), and leave them there for a few hours until the glue dries.
  5. Decorate the outside of the envelope or leave it as is. You can use acrylic paint to cover all of the package print. Gesso works as well. Then decorate as needed.
  6. Decorate both sides of the envelopes. Use the same color pallets as the printed paper you have used.
  7. Glue the envelopes into the tabs with the opening where you can fill whatever you would like to add.

Corner Bookmarks

Cut the corner of an envelope to fit the size of your page. Decorate it if you would like. You can use ink, acrylic paints, inks, crayons, pastels or whatever you may have in your stash.

More Envelope Ideas

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Read More From Feltmagnet

Pinwheels are a fun project to make with your kids. Just use a die cutting machine. Using left over magazines, these pin wheels are fun to make and play with

Pinwheels are a fun project to make with your kids. Just use a die cutting machine. Using left over magazines, these pin wheels are fun to make and play with

Junk Mail Ideas

Magazines

You can use old magazines to create projects and ephemera for your journals. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about how to use them.

  • Use words in magazines to add to your journals
  • Use pictures of faraway places in a travel journal
  • Use quotes on a scrapbook page
  • Create a collage using colored squares from magazine pages

Pop-Up Flowers

You can create beautiful pop-up flowers from all of your magazines and catalogs.

Catalogs

There are lots of uses for old catalogs. Like other snail mail you can use them for different projects

Scrapbooks

We all know how expensive stickers and letters are to help us create embellishments. Well. you can create your own stickers and embellishments with the catalogs that you get, especially around holiday time.

  1. Words, letters and sayings-find the image, word or saying that you like. Cut them down. Then run them through a Zyron or stick them onto a piece of double-sided sticker paper.
  2. You can add extra dimension to these cut outs by gluing them onto cardboard. The cardboard can be recycled from the boxes of products in your pantry. They will be more like chipboard pieces. Cover them with some Mod Podge to make them sturdy.

Art Journals

Catalogs are great to use when you are art journaling. Creating a collage is a fun creative way to express your thoughts and feelings. You can create a collage on a specific topic. You could also create one about your favorite things or whatever you enjoy most.

You can also add individual words and sayings to art journal pages.

Always add a little Mod Podge or decoupage finish over your words, sayings and images to keep them permanent.

This would be a fun thing to do especially if you are giving a gift from the company of that catalog.

Supplies:

  • Catalog of any company (the size of the bag will be dependent on the size of your catalog.
  • Staple remover
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Hole punch
  • Ribbon(twine)
  1. Remove all of the staples from the inside of the magazine or catalog.
  2. Separate the pages and select the page that you would like to use.
  3. Place the side of the page that you have selected face down on your workspace.
  4. Make the folds. You will need 4 folds to create your bag. On a large page you would fold at 3" from the left, then at 5". Then fold at 3" and at 5". If you have smaller pages, make the same 4 folds. but at smaller measurements. If you are using a traditional sized magazine, the measurements will be a little bit smaller. As long as the two smaller folds and two larger folds are the same size it will work.
  5. Make folds at the top and the bottom of the page. The top fold is about 3/4" and the bottom is about 2.5".
  6. Apply glue or double-sided tape to adhere the top and bottom of the page as you fold them inward.
  7. Using the folds you created, fold the page into a bag shape. Adhere the unfolded side so the page gets the bag shape.
  8. At the bottom of the bag, you will make a fold like you would at the end of gift wrapping. Adhere the flaps and triangles to create the bottom of the bag.
  9. Punch 4 even holes at the top of the bag.
  10. Use twine or ribbon to create handles.


More Junk Mail Ideas

Junk Mail Crafts

Create a heart wreath using old magazines or catalogs

Create a heart wreath using old magazines or catalogs

Home Made Washi Tape

Supplies:

  • Double-sided tape
  • Junk Mail
  • Wax paper
  • Paper clips
  1. Spread your paper out on a flat surface. If your paper is a little wrinkly from storage, you can iron it on the lowest heat. If your paper is thin (like tissue paper) you can also opt to leave it wrinkly for a little texture. Thicker paper won’t work as well if you don’t make sure it’s flat.
  2. Lay your tape out on your paper. Work slowly and make sure the tape doesn’t bubble or wrinkle.
  3. Lay the wax paper over the tape. Smooth it down really well.
  4. Grab your scissors. You should be able to sort of see the tape through the wax paper. Trim off the excess paper and wax paper with your scissors.
  5. To store your washi tape neatly, roll it up around your finger and secure it with a paper clip.

Tear Drop Art

Supplies:

  • Sharpie
  • Scissors
  • Magazines or catalogs
  1. Draw tear drops with sharpie pens on the pages
  2. Cut around the sharpie
  3. Add the tear drops to a canvas or a journal page

More Junk Mail Ideas

Create delightful tags from the inside of business envelopes

Create delightful tags from the inside of business envelopes

Used Calanders

Every year we discard our used calendars and replace them with the new version. But before you pitch the next one, consider these ideas for recycling what you have:

  1. Frame them as artwork. There are some lovely images that could be used in your home, office, classroom, and even in your craft space. Even sports images could be used in a man cave or library.
  2. Create postcards. Cut a piece of heavy cardstock to postage size. Adhere the image to one side. On the other, divide it in half. Write your message on the left. Stamp it and add an address. College student, those in service, grandchildren and greats would all enjoy receiving one.
  3. Create refrigerator magnets. Use a portion of the image, seal it with decoupage medium or put it in a tiny frame. Add a magnet and you have a custom refrigerator magnet.
  4. Create homemade envelopes with the images. Use an envelope board or a template. Adhere the sides and you have something unique.
  5. Create gift tags. Cut a piece of cardstock into a gift tag shape (you can die cut them, use an electronic cutting machine or a template). Adhere the image on one side and a message on the other.

More Calendar Recycle Crafts

Mod Podge Decoupage Kit

Just about any food box can be used to create all kinds of practical and artistic thing in your home.

Just about any food box can be used to create all kinds of practical and artistic thing in your home.

Reusing Food Boxes

All of those cereal, macaroni, cookie, cracker and other boxes in your kitchen and pantry can be reused in so many ways. Once you see these ideas, you will never throw away another box.

While you will find a lot of recycled uses for cereal boxes, you can use the same ideas for other boxes, too.

Create Gift Tags

Supplies:

  • Any thin cardboard box from your kitchen
  • Printed or solid cardstock
  • Piece of white scrap cardstock
  • PVA glue or double-sided tape
  • Gift tag die/electronic cutting machine
  • Hole punch
  1. Cut apart a cereal box.
  2. Use your electronic cutting machine or a die cut to cut the cardboard into a gift tag shape.
  3. Cut two more of the same size shapes out of solid or decorative cardstock.
  4. Use double sided tape or PVA glue to attach the cardstock to your tag.
  5. Cut a small piece of white cardstock to add to the back of your tag for your message.
  6. Use a hole punch to create a hole at the top of your tag.
  7. Use some ribbon to attach your tag to your gift. These tags can also be used on scrapbook pages and junk journals.

Mini-Box Notebooks

So easy and so cute. Cut some paper and a piece of a light cardboard box into pieces that are 2" by 4". Fold the pieces in half (Or use a scoreboard to create a fold line) Use a bonefolder or a ruler on each page to get a crisp fold. Decorate the cardboard with cardstock or leave it plain. Stack them together with the cardboard piece at the bottom. Staple in the center at the fold. Perfect to tuck in a purse to make notes in. You could use the same idea to make different sizes.

Post Cards

Cut out a piece of cereal box measuring 4 inches by 6 inches and a piece of white cardstock the same size. Adhere the cardstock to the cardboard with double sided tape or glue. If you use PVA glue, use a bone folder or a brayer to press the cardstock onto the cardboard.

Then draw a line down the center on the cardstock side. Write your message on the left side of the postcard, put the recipient’s address and your stamp on the right, then drop it in the mail! This would be a fun project for kids to send to their grandparents.

Bookmarks

Create a simple but colorful bookmark with some boxes from your kitchen and some scrap cardstock. Cut out pieces of the box and cardstock that measure 1.5 inches by 6 inches. Adhere the cardstock to the cardboard with some glue or double-sided tape. Use a brayer or a bonefolder to press the cardstock to the cardboard if you are using glue. Punch a hole at the top of each one, then thread a length of string or ribbon through the hole and cinch it.

Treat (Cupcake) Boxes

If you need something to carry cupcakes or cookies in, just use a cereal box and convert it into a carrier.

  1. Start by taping or gluing the top flaps of your cereal box shut.
  2. Use a craft knife or box cutter to cut along three of the edges of the front panel, leaving one long edge intact.
  3. Line the inside of the box with tissue paper if desired, then place your treats inside.
  4. You can secure the top of your treat box with a piece of ribbon to keep it closed during travel.

More Kitchen Box Ideas

Tips for Using Cardboard Boxes for Storage

As we all know, there is never enough storage in our homes. No matter how hard we try, we are all looking for extra pieces of storage options. If you have children, double that need. Things like baskets and fancy storage units can be pricey.

So, why not reuse those cardboard boxes that you get from online orders into something that will help organize your space without breaking the budget?

Here are a few tips and ideas to help you get started:

  1. Look for some storage options that you may have missed. Could be under a bed, in a closet, in a pantry. There are lots of hidden spaces if you look for them.
  2. Measure carefully and write down the exact measurements. As my dad would say. "Measure twice and cut once" Write down the width, length and height. Trust me, you will not remember them.
  3. Try to find cardboard boxes that will fit in that space. If you do not have the right ones, you can always cut down a larger one.
  4. When making lids, you'll inevitably need to glue together some parts of cardboard, to make them fit onto the main box.
  5. If you are working with heavier cardboard boxes, like 3-4 layers or more, make sure to make lids large enough. They should be at least an inch longer than the box itself. That is due to the thickness of the cardboard.
  6. Smaller boxes can fit into larger boxes for more organization. If you are storing things like toys, craft supplies or other small things, you can create dividers using smaller boxes.
Create storage boxes for your craft space

Create storage boxes for your craft space

How to Cover Cardboard Boxes

From tissue boxes to shipping boxes, you have quite a few options how you can cover and decorate your personal storage solutions.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Gift wrap. This is a decorative covering that cannot be overstated. You will want to use a good weight wrap. Another nice option about wrapping paper is that is can be cut to size to fit any size box. On thinner cardboard, a good option is to use some Mod Podge or some decoupage medium to make the project sturdier.
  • Contact Paper. You can find some very reasonably priced contact paper in your local dollar store (now the $1.25 store). It is easy to use and will last.
  • Fabric. You can buy fabric to match your decor if your storage unit is part of a visible design. Fabric can also be made into liners for your storage units. Fleft is one of the easiest materials to work with.
  • Paint. Paint is another option that is reasonably priced. Spray paints are easy to both use and will last.

More Cardboard Box Ideas

Create a custom desk organizer with toilet paper rolls

Create a custom desk organizer with toilet paper rolls

Recycle Toilet Paper Rolls

There are an endless number of things you can do with toilet paper rolls. I would never throw them away. They help you create a huge amount of paper and decor crafts.

Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Create a Nautical Themed Napkin Ring. Use a hot glue gun as you wrap twine around a cut piece of toilet paper rolls. Start by gluing the twine at the start of the wrap. Then periodically add glue to hold the twine on. Cut the twine when you reach the end. Then glue that end to the toilet roll piece.
  2. Cord Manager. We all have cords for our computers and other electronics in our home. Your empty toilet paper rolls offer the perfect solution to manage them and keep them rolled up. You can decorate the rolls with paper or washi tape. Roll the cords up and slip the rolled-up cords through the decorated toilet paper rolls.
  3. Desk Organizers. There are a lot of different ways to create a custom desk organizer. You basically need a cardboard base and the rolls to stand upright. You can make any configuration that meets your needs. make the base large enough for the rolls you are using. You can make the rolls in different sizes to accommodate the items that you plan to store in them. You can cover the rolls and base in decorative paper, felt, material, washi tape or you can paint them with acrylics. Create the organizer that best meets your needs.
  4. Keep Wrapping Paper On Rolls. When we use wrapping paper and toss it aside, the paper tends to unravel, tear, and become unusable. To keep your wrapping paper good for as long as possible, cut open toilet paper rolls and tape them around the wrapping paper.
  5. Create A Pillow Gift Box. You can create a pillow gift box with your left-over toilet paper rolls.

More Toilet Paper Roll Crafts

Reuse Books Once You Have Read Them

You can create amazing art journals, junk journals and altered books from the old books sitting around in your home.

If you do not have any old books, no bother. You can find older books at your local thrift store, library and often at yard sales.

The first thing to look for in a used book is to see if the spine of the book is sewn or glued. Though I have used glued spined books, they are much harder to work with.

Altered Books

An “altered book” is any book that has been up cycled, recycled or creatively changed.

Techniques used are considered multimedia and include painting, collage, stamping, gluing, stapling, and sewing among others. Areas of the book can be cut out providing windows and recessed niches. Often the original text of the book is incorporated into the new design.

Art Journals

You can use books to create art journals. You will want to use books that have sewn bindings (look for stitching on some of the pages, especially in the center of the book. Look at the pages of the book, to make sure that they are not too old to stand up to the techniques you will be using. Sewn bindings are stronger and the pages are less likely to fall out.

You will want to rip out half of the pages to accommodate the media you are going to add. You can use a craft knife and a ruler to get that part done.

Glue one to two pages together to strengthen the pages. Use extra glue on the corners because they are likely to pull apart. You can use glue sticks or PVA glue. Make sure that you spread the glue evenly so that you do not get any glue lumps. You can use a brayer or an old gift card to spread the glue

Now you can prime your pages with the gesso of your choice, and you are ready to go.

Junk Journals

Since you are going to add a lot of things to your junk journal pages, you will want to tear or rip a lot of pages from your book. When you are ripping your pages, you want to make clean cuts as close to the spine as you can.

You will want to rip out half of the pages to accommodate the media you are going to add. You can use a craft knife and a ruler to get that part done.

Then you add whatever you would like to use recycled materials or whatever you have in your stash. The possibilities are endless.

What to Do With the Ripped Pages

Don't throw out those ripped pages that you took from your recycled books. They can be used for projects too! Here are a few ideas:

  1. Make pockets for your journals
  2. Create a folded book project
  3. Rip them in pieces to decoupage as bases in your journals
  4. Make envelopes from them
  5. Make a wreath
Using old books to recycle into altered books is an artful expression of your creativity

Using old books to recycle into altered books is an artful expression of your creativity

Meat Trays Can Be Used in So Many Ways

Those Styrofoam meat trays are perfect for use in your craft space. I keep several different sizes in my craft room. Before you store them or take them into your craft space, make sure that they are washed well and dried.

Uses for Styrofoam Meat Trays

Tissue Paper

If you get a gift wrapped in tissue paper, save that paper. Outside of using it for a gift bag, there are plenty of uses in your craft space.

DIY Tissue Paper Washi Tape

There are so many applications for this DIY washi tape. You can use it on scrapbook pages, envelopes, junk journals, paper pockets, bullet journals and a lot more. Instead of using junk mail, you are using left over tissue paper instead.

Supplies:

  • Tissue paper
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brush
  • Wax paper
  1. Lay out your wax paper or any surface the tape can be easily removed.
  2. Tear off a piece of masking tape and stick to the wax paper.
  3. Cut off a piece of tissue slightly larger than the masking tape.
  4. Lightly apply Mod Podge to the back of the masking tape (non-sticky side) and then carefully set tissue on top.
  5. Peel off the tape and cut the excess tissue paper off. Apply your DIY tissue paper washi to whatever you like.

Recycle Dryer Sheets

Use acrylic paint to color dryer sheets. These sheets could be die cut or used as backgrounds for a journal

Use acrylic paint to color dryer sheets. These sheets could be die cut or used as backgrounds for a journal

Fabric Dryer Sheets

There are so many things that you can so with the dryer sheets left over after they are used a few times.

  • Use acrylic paint to dye your dryer sheets
  • Make flowers with your dryer sheets

More Dryer Sheet Ideas

Upcycle Paper Towel Roll Ideas

Create a box for all of those extra power cards in one location with paper towel rolls

Create a box for all of those extra power cards in one location with paper towel rolls

Paper Towels

Just like toilet paper rolls, there are lots of uses for paper towel rolls. Here are some that you can get started on:

  • Use them to organize your power cords. Wrap up your cords and slip a paper towel roll over the wrapped cord. You can decorate them with wrapping paper or pieces of washi tape.
  • Create wall art. Cut the rolls into 1-inch pieces. Glue them together to create a design or shape.
  • Make a candy gift surprise. Take a jar that you have recycled. Make sure to wash and dry the jar so there are no left-over odors. Make a gift tag from left over cardboard. Measure the inside of the jar and cut the paper towel roll to fit. Slip the paper towel roll into the jar. Add small candies like M&M candies all around the edges of the jar. Place some cash or a check inside the paper towel roll. Decorate the lid of the jar. Put the lid on the jar and you are good to go.

Recycle Napkins in Paper Crafts

There are so many ways to use napkins in your paper crafts. We hope that you will take some of these suggestions and use them in your own craft projects.

  1. Use them as a card front. Using double sided tape, you can attach decorative napkins left over from any celebration to create an amazing greeting card
  2. Decoupage napkins on any type of surface. Use them in journals, wooden plaques, furniture and a lot more.

More Napkin Recycled Ideas

We have just covered a small number of ideas to upcycle, reuse and craft with your paper leftovers. There is a lot more ways to reuse these items in your home. So watch for more ideas, crafts and information in the future. Meanwhile, start hoarding your left over papers, catalogs, junk mail and more.

We hope that you will take over the mantra of at least using everything at least one more time. The world will be a better place for it.

© 2022 Linda F Correa