6 ways to reuse cardboard and paper

Filed in Reuse by on September 25, 2015 5 Comments
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paper comes from treesEach person in the UK gets through 50kg of paper a year.

It’s made up of:

• cardboard – from cereal boxes to large boxes you purchase appliances in
• catalogues, magazines, junk mail and newspapers
• print outs (you’ve got a home printer, right?)
• toilet rolls
• receipts and tickets
• paper napkins, kitchen roll … the list goes on.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine what 250kg of paper looks like. Luckily, writer Mandy Haggith shows us:

mandy haggith reuse paper and cardboard

Pretty shocking, isn’t it?

While every tonne of paper recycled saves 17 trees, let’s take a step back up the waste hierarchy by looking at how we can REUSE paper and cardboard instead.

Weed suppressant

Cardboard makes a brilliant weed suppressant if you’re just starting out with an unloved allotment.

Lay your cardboard down, cover with straw or some other mulch and you can leave to rot down until you’re ready to do the digging.

Alternatively, cut holes in the cardboard to stick plants through – it will reduce the need for watering AND weeding.

weed supressent

Tidy the house

Toilet roll inners are fantastic for keeping things tidy!

Use them to wrap around cables to prevent them getting tangled, store your Christmas lights and cut them to make a cuff to put around rolls of wrapping paper to stop them unravelling.

cable tidy

Gift tags

This idea takes me back to my Grandma’s living room and a pair of pinking sheers. Every year I used to make Christmas gift tags from last year’s Christmas cards. It’s ridiculously simple to do, but oh so satisfying.


We don’t have so much paper at home. We’ve signed up for the Mail Preference Service to reduce junk mail and switched to paperless billing for our utilities.

If you’re living under a paper mountain, here are some reuse ideas!

Wrapping paper

When I was a feisty teen I used to scoff at my Grandma who’d open presents carefully, then iron the paper to reuse.

Now I’ve discovered that each Christmas, people in the UK use enough wrapping paper to cover the island of Guernsey, I think we should all be getting our irons out.

Reuse your calendar

If you’ve got an old calendar lurking somewhere, at some point in the future, the days and dates will match up again.

Click here to find out when you can reuse YOUR calendar.

Donate your books

Come on, admit it – you’ve got far too many books.

There are plenty of opportunities for other people to reuse them by donating to a local school, hospital, hospice, daycare centre, community library, old peoples’ home or women’s shelter. Check out some of our ideas here.

Take it away!

If you’ve become overrun with old bank statements, invoices and documents you might need professional help. There are companies who offer domestic and business shredding services. If you ask the right questions, you can keep your zero waste credentials intact too. Companies such as Datashredders recycle 99% of all their shredding.

What about you? How do you reuse paper and cardboard at home or in the office?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (5)

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  1. I just got new raised beds for the garden and lined them with cardboard, I put card in the compost bin too, and use loo rolls as plant pots.

    I’m well known for my wrapping paper saving skills too!

  2. John Simpson says:

    I’ve been using recycled, till receipts and vouchers to make furniture for a few years now. I go around my town and collect cardboard packaging from shops. With the addition of till receipts and vouchers which I seem to collect at an alarming rate (with the help of my wife) I mash up the paper and spread over the cardboard to complete a seat. It’s sealed and looks like polished concrete.

    • Mrs Green says:

      Hi John, thanks for dropping by. I’ve just taken a look at your site and love some of your quirky pieces. The small horse from Amazon packaging is lovely! I’m sure your art brings pleasure to recipients as well as doing something positive to keep materials from landfill. Amazing that receipts and vouchers can look like polished concrete – who knew?!

      • John Simpson says:

        Hi Mrs Green.
        Thanks for the feedback. Just to let you know the ‘Small Amazon Horse’ was sold this weekend at Art in the Park- Leamington Spa. What made the weekend really encouraging though was the reaction of the visitors to my work. They were amazed and inspired at what you can do with cardboard and till receipts. Again thanks for your reply. John Simpson

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