Reusing Newspapers in the Home and Garden

How to Reuse Old Newspapers

Dec 13, 2017


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We subscribe to our local daily newspaper and a couple of Sunday papers, so even though hard times have rendered newspapers a lot thinner than they used to be, the papers tend to build up. Here are a few ways we like to reuse our newspapers around the home and garden!

How to Reuse Newspapers

In the Garden

With two woodstoves in continuous use from late November through April, we use most of our winter newspapers as fire starters. The ashes we don’t use to provide traction on icy walkways, we add as a pH-raising amendment to our garden soils.

The papers have other horticultural uses, too: 

  • During the growing season, we use newspapers as a weed-suppressing mulch. We lay them down several pages thick and cover the paper with a thin layer of hay, pine needles, or wood chips to make aisles between our garden beds.
  • To create a new garden spot without mechanical tillage, I lay down a thick layer of newspapers (flattened cardboard boxes work well, too); top it off with a thinner layer of hay, straw, or leaves; and let the space sit a year. By the following spring, the grass underneath will have died, and voilà!—a soil ready to fertilize, amend, and plant.
  • I also protect young vegetable seedlings from cutworms by wrapping the lower stem with a tight collar of wet newspaper that extends an inch into the soil and at least an inch above the soil line.
  • To ripen green tomatoes indoors, I harvest blemish-free fruits when frost threatens, wrap each in a piece of newspaper, and set them in a cool, dark cellar. Sometimes they last through Thanksgiving.

In the Home

During many years of freelance writing for newspapers (and always tending a big vegetable garden), I often joked about the fun of eating my words. But since this isn’t a gardening blog, allow me to share a few of the hundred and one others ways I use newspapers around the house:

  • Cleaning windows: Crumpled newspaper and white vinegar make an unbeatable combo for washing windows and other glass surfaces.
  • Wrapping paper: Very chic, especially if you select the right news for the occasion or decorate the newspaper with potato prints
  • Cut-flower holder: Torn or shredded, moistened, and stuffed into a vase, old newspapers will hold cut flowers, greens, or branches in place. Add more if you need to.
  • Shape-holders: Crumple newspapers and stuff them into shoes, handbags, and hats you don’t use often to help them hold their shapes.
  • Funny hats: I once worked with a colleague who’d previously spent many years as a daycare worker and was a master of newspaper-hat making. He had a hat for every occasion. Retirements, marriages, promotions, failed budget negotiations—Tom always came out with a news-hat that spoke to the occasion.

What do you do with old newspapers? Recycle or reuse? Let us know in the comments!

About This Blog

"Living Naturally" is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that's good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, and ideas to make your home a healthy, safe haven. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it's relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

Reader Comments

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Uses for newspapers

Surprised no one uses newspaper for food odors left in plastic containers or jars after they have been washed. Crumple a few pages, stuff them in the containers, cap them, and the food odors will disappear in a few days. Also for the window cleaning w/vinegar - best to use black and white printed sheets and not the colored sheets. This goes for the food odors, too.

Newspaper uses

I use newspaper to make starter pots for seedlings. They can just go into the ground.

Recycle Newspaper

The Humane Society where I live in Georgia uses newspapers for cleanup and bedding.

What i do with newspapers

I put crumpled up news paper between chicken wire and black plastic containers, to help the containers not get too hot and help retain some moisture. It does reduce the size of the container but only a little bit. This is the first time I tried this so I don't know if it will help yet..

Great blog. I'd like to try

Great blog. I'd like to try the glass cleaning and the mulching method. Questions: If you use newspapers to clean windows or floors, would they get smeary? And if you put in your garden, would you have little pieces of newspaper everywhere that you'd never get rid of?

Andy, the newspaper will not

Andy, the newspaper will not smear because you don't soak the newspaper in the cleaning solution. Spray you glass with the window cleaner, get one that doesn't streak, then wipe your window down with the wadded up newspaper instead of paper towels or cloth; as for the gardening, newspapers will return to the soil by rotting away completely over time.

I too use

newspapers to clean windows in home & cars.
I thought it was a joke a first, but wow, those newspapers do a great job of cleaning without smearing !

As a scrapbooker and family

As a scrapbooker and family historian, I would also add that you should scan the occasional newspaper. They can give you a great snapshot of a particular time, commemorate an event, even the advertising pages can make a great digital background paper for photos from the same time period.
I would also add that if you have a family member or an ancestor mentioned in an article, that you should donate the paper to the local historical or genealogical society - or at least give them an electronic transcription of the article. I can't tell you how much I discovered about my family just because somebody took the time to copy out the local society column for the Genweb project.
After that, go ahead and use it as a weed killer.

unfortunately if we do not

unfortunately if we do not put out a green bin (along with a blue bin) they will not take our trash. And you can't put out empty bins because they still won't take your trash. I try to put boxes from cereal etc. instead but being elderly, those are infrequent to empty.

Recycling newspaper

Is there a recycling site for items like newspapers and plastic, etc? If you cannot take these items maybe a friend or relative could pick them up.


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