Newspapers – Reuse Before You Recycle

© Oleg Pidodnya |

Recycling newspapers is easy enough to do, and recycled paper can be made into many products but, before you recycle that stack of papers, think about re-using them.

In fact there are so many ways of using old newspapers around the home, that I am dreading the day when there is no-one left in our family actually reading the things. My husband gets his news electronically, so we never buy them and rely on the older generation for our supply, my mother-in- law, who still buys a daily paper to keep in touch. What we will do if she gives up the news habit, I really don’t know! Any ideas?

Here are just a few of the uses that they can be put to.

1. Soaking up spills, pet urine and other unfortunate puddles.
A few sheets of newspaper will quickly soak the liquid up away from the floor, making the clean up easier. Our three dogs lose all their house training when there are storms and we wake up to puddles in the house, so this is a frequent need, going through stacks of paper in no time in winter. The paper can then be added to the compost heap, if you can bear to tear it into slightly smaller pieces so that it will decompose properly.

2. Lighting fires.
Newspaper is an essential kindling for any fire. Twist a few sheets lengthwise into loose screws and place under the rest of the kindling (small slivers of wood, pine cones etc), to get your fire going without any need for fire lighters.

3. Lining pet cages
Bunnies and guinea-pigs need regular cleaning of their cages. It makes it a whole lot easier if you place several sheets of newspaper at the bottom of the cage to soak up urine and water spills. The whole lot  can be lifted out when dirty and discarded on the compost heap.

4. Wrapping paper
Large items can be tricky to wrap and require huge amounts of expensive new wrapping paper to cover. Go retro and pick out the best pages of newspaper for wrapping Christmas gifts. Choose the cartoon pages for kids, fun headlines for adults and so on. Tie it all with re-usable ribbon or raffia, saved from last Christmas, and you have a totally green, recyclable wrapping for free.

5. Planting trees
Trees planted in light sandy soils need help to retain moisture around their roots, especially in hot, dry climates, such as the Western Cape in summer.. Torn newspapers added to the base of the planting hole before the compost will help moisture retention and give the tree a good start. This is especially important if you are planting large trees which need all the help they can get to settle in.

These are just a few of the things we use newspaper for. What about you? Share any great green tips with us in the comments.