Those of us who read the newspaper know that a Sunday news habit can quickly turn into a gigantic stack of newsprint. And, despite our best intentions, that stack never quite makes it to the recycling center. If you’re looking for creative ideas to shrink that collection of newspapers, here are 10 ways you can put them to use around the home and garden.
- Seed Tape – When it comes to planting quick and easy flowerbeds or perfect rows of lettuce, seed tape is essential. Make your own by cutting newspapers into 1-inch wide strips. Then mix 1/4 cup of flour with just enough water to make a sticky paste. Use a toothpick to dab the paste onto your newspaper strips, place the seeds on the drops of paste, and let your seed tape dry before planting.
- Pots for Seedlings – For gardeners, one of the best ways to get rid of newspapers is to turn them into seedling pots. Newspaper seed pots save you money on peat pots and plant starting kits, and they’re fully biodegradable, which means that when the time comes, you can simply plant the seedlings – pots and all – without worrying about root damage. If you’d like to make seedling pots, HGTV.com has an excellent tutorial right here.
- Weed Barrier – Cut down on time spent weeding vegetable gardens and flowerbeds by spreading two or three layers of newsprint over the bare ground. To keep your gardens organic and toxin-free, avoid using glossy newspaper inserts or sections with colored ink. Once you’ve laid out the newspapers, use straw, mulch or grass clippings to hold the papers down and hide them from sight.
- Eliminate Odors – Newspaper is just as effective at eliminating odors as baking soda, and unlike baking soda, you can use newspaper everywhere. Place crumpled newspaper in stinky shoes or musty luggage, lay a sheet or two out in the refrigerator or put balls of newspaper in plastic food containers to get rid of bad smells.
- As a Liner for Hard to Clean Areas – Newspapers don’t just clean up messes – they prevent them, too. Make cleaning easier by using newspapers in the following ways:
- Instead of scrubbing at grease, grime and dust, line the tops of your kitchen cabinets with newspapers. When spring cleaning rolls around, simply replace the dirty newspapers with fresh ones.
- Place newspapers in your refrigerator’s vegetable drawers to catch spills, leaks and excess moisture.
- Make garbage can cleanup easy by putting several layers of newspaper in the bottoms of your bins to catch leaks.
- Cleaning Windows – Paper towels streak windows and cloth leaves lint behind, but newspapers have neither of these drawbacks. For sparkling clean windows, crumple a sheet of newspaper and use it with a water and vinegar solution or your favorite glass cleaner.
- Wrapping Paper and Gift Bags – This recycling method is an old one, but a good one. Use the comics section – especially the colorful Sunday comics – to make adorable wrapping paper. If you’re looking for a unique twist on the newspaper giftwrap idea, try making elegant newsprint gift bags.
- Paper Mache – If you enjoy arts and crafts, then paper mache is the perfect way to recycle your old newspapers. You can make anything from bowls to sculptures and piñatas. Best of all, paper mache is a kid-friendly craft, which means you can let the little ones in on the fun, too.
- Make Coasters – One of the most unusual ways to recycle your newspapers is to turn them into drink coasters. This simple tutorial shows you how to make coiled newsprint coasters in both square and round shapes. If you’re feeling particularly creative, use colored newsprint to create interesting designs.
- Donate Them – If you’ve tried each of these ideas and you still have some newspapers left, let someone else put them to use. Veterinary offices and animal shelters often use newspapers to line animal cages. Thrift stores use them to wrap breakable items. Ask around among local business owners, and you’re certain to find more than a few who will be happy that stack of papers off your hands.
Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental, and green living topics.