Junk Mail Envelopes

Instead of getting annoyed at all that junk mail – put it to use:

  1. Take those envelopes enclosed in junk mail, place a label over the pre-printed address, write in a new address, and send it on its way. This only works if it doesn’t have a printed bar code. If it has that little bar code, no matter where you address it to, it will end up back at the company who originally sent it out as junk mail.
  2. I’ve found a use for junk mail envelopes that gives me a kick every time I do it. I stuff an advertisement for one of my books in the envelope and send it back to the company. Free advertising for me with very little effort!
  3. Use the back to write notes, shopping lists, to do lists …
  4. Use to store receipts,  carry coupons, save seeds …

What Do You Do with a Potato Chip Tube?

Quite a bit apparently.

Wrap it and use it as a gift container for cookies.

Homemade soap using a Pringles can as a mold.

kalidescope.gif (12241 bytes)


Kid looking through can

pinhole camera

They’re also great for …

Bank:  Cut a thin rectangle out of the lid using an Exacto knife. Decorate can to taste.

Safe Bank: Glue a few chips to the inside lid of the can. Keep it in your pantry as a safe place to store valuables. Few burglers will even bother to glance twice at the can, but if they do they’ll see the potato chips through the lid and hopefully won’t bother to open the can. As further insurance instead of gluing chips to the lid you can put your valuables inside, then stack chips on top of them. It will be harder for you to retrieve your goodies when you want them but they will be safer from prying hands.

Flower Vase: Set a jar or plastic tumbler into a decorated potato chip can.

Kitchen Utensil Holder: Prepare plaster of paris according to package directions. Pour 1″ to 2″ into utensil holder to make it more stable. Allow to dry before adding kitchen utensils!

Safe Mailer: Use an empty Pringles container with its original lid to mail cookies, other baked goods and breakable items. Just fill with goodies, securely tape the lid in place, wrap in plain paper, address and mail. Don’t forget to label your package “Fragile”, although I actually label all my packages “Breakable” and “Glass” to insure they are treated gently.

School/Class Materials Carrier: Carry your pencils, artist brushes or other class materials.

Decorate any of the above using:
• wallpaper sample or leftovers
• decoupage pictures
• decorative napkins
• aluminum flashing
• mosaic tiles
• paper mache
• gift wrap
• construction paper
• book cover
• decorative contact paper
• paint

They’re also great for storing knitting needles and paintbrushes, small craft projects, an easy way to take food on a picnic or to the beach, a small poster tube, store documents without creasing … What will you do with your next Pringles can?

West of Camden in Newport Beach California

While strolling around Fashion Island in Newport Beach, CA I stumbled on West of Camden (by the koi pond). Lindsey and her mother-in-law hand make everything in their store using recycled paper that they treat with vinyl so that it’s durable. If you’re in the area, stop by their kiosk and you might even be so lucky as to see them making one of their beautiful bags.

You can also find them at their website West of Camden or on Facebook.


Easy & Quick Recycled Paper Projects

Paper printed on one side, junk mail, magazines, newspapers, even books – none of these go to waste at The Irish Attic. Many get recycled over and over until they are eventually shredded and even then the shredded paper is used over and over until it eventually ends up in the garden as mulch or in the composter as fertilizer.


Paper that has been printed on one side only can be cut into various sizes for notepads. I like to use a guillotine -style paper cutter but you can use a rotary cutter or just plain scissors. You can place a stack in a small basket or recycled box or berry basket at your desk and/or in the kitchen or bind the sheets using a stapler, punch a hole in the upper left corner and slip a split ring or a ribbon through the hole, or do like Green Issues does and use a strip of duct tape making sure to press the ends of the paper pad against the tape so that the top of each page sticks to the tape. If you’ll be using your pads in the car or carrying with you in your purse you might want to use a piece of recycled cardboard to back your pad so that you’ll have a firm writing surface. You can even use another piece of cardboard as a cover to keep the paper from getting mangled.


Gift Bags

You can pick up a bundle of lunch bag size paper bags or do like I do and use bags that I somehow seem to end up with even though I try to carry my own bags for new purchases.

Use newspapers, comics, recycled gift wrap, magazine pages, postcards, greeting cards … to decorate these bags to use as gift bags.

Gift Wrap

Wrap gifts with newspaper, comics or magazine pages. Use a collage of paper to wrap a large gift.

Ribbons & Bows

Fold paper into strips and wrap around gift like a ribbon. Layer thinner pieces of folded paper on top of wider strips for multi-colored ribbon. Shred or cut paper into 4 to 6-inch long strips. Tape ends of each strip together to make a loop. Tape loops to top of gift to make a bow.

Recycled Greeting Cards

Recycle greeting cards that you receive and send them out again. Cover any personal notes with a pretty cutout from a magazine page.

Or make a postcard by seperating the front of the card from the back. Recycle the back of the card in another way. Use the front of the card as a postcard.

Greeting Cards Made From Recycled Paper

Cut a used manila envelope or file folder into the size of the greeting card you want to make, being sure to use the fold of the envelope or the file folder to use as your card’s fold line. Cut pictures from magazines or old greeting cards and glue them to the front of your card. Done!

Easter “Grass”

Instead of plastic Easter “grass” in Easter baskets and Easter decorations use shredded green paper.

Altered Book Safe

This is such a simple project and a beautiful way to recycle a slightly damaged book.

Check out All Free Crafts step by step tutorial.

Paper Mache

We all know how to paper mache however I want to pass along these links to some fantastic paper mache projects and techniques that go beyond covering a balloon with gluey paper strips.

Paper Mache Clay Recipe

Wendy Harford’s Creations

Paper Mache Frog & Other Critters

Paper Mache Seahorse

Packing & Shipping

You can easily use crumpled or shredded paper instead of purchased packing peanuts or bubble wrap. Just be sure to not use paper with personal information even if it’s shredded. All you need is one criminal with a lot of patience to piece together your bank statement from 1000 strips of shredded paper to turn an otherwise good year into a nightmare that spans the next decade.


Newspaper is perfect to use in your compost pile. There are many different ways to compost so I won’t go into detail here except to give you a few links to composting instructions. I’m not a big fan of buying a bunch of new equipment to make recycling easier. The idea is to reduce and reuse. My composting bin is an old garbage can with holes punched in the bottom for drainage, a square of screen cut from an old window screen covering the hole. The whole thing is set on top of several cement bricks with an old oil drain pan to catch the drippings from the can above. I water the plants with these drippings while waiting for the composting material to turn to hummus.

The Ultimate One Page Guide to Composting – I know that I said I’d give you a bunch of links but this is really the only one you need.


Scrap Paper Art

Scrap paper can be used to create a children’s art project or get creative yourself and create an art piece to hang in that empty spot you haven’t been able to find the right piece for.

Free Coloring Pages

Print out coloring pages on the blank sides of scrap paper that is wrinkle and crease free.



Cartoon Characters




Matting For Frame

I often end up with art that is too small for the frame I want to use. Instead of buying a wide pre-matt board I mount the art on recycled cardboard and fill in the space between the art and the frame with a collage of recycled paper. The end result is a unique piece that makes me smile every time I look at it because I had a part in creating it.

I have a lot more ways to use recycled paper which I’ll publish in an addition to this post. Meanwhile – please share your own ways to use recycled paper in your home and life.