Recycling saves the environment, but there’s more to it than just putting your recyclables on the curb. There’s a lot you can do with old scrap paper around your house. Follow these steps to maximize your recycling.

Method 1
Method 1 of 4:

Recycling in the Garden & Garage

  1. Tear the paper into strips, and layer it around your plants. This will help prevent weed growth and will keep the soil moist. The paper will eventually decompose and help give nutrients to the soil.[1]
    • Corrugated cardboard can be effective as well.
    • Do not use glossy paper or colored ink.
  2. Newspaper will add carbon to a well-balanced compost pile, and is classed as “brown.” Check out our guide here on how to build a balanced compost.
  3. Use old newspaper as a spill guard when performing auto repair or when painting and staining furniture. Use it as a covering for all of your craft projects.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 4:

Recycling in the Office

  1. Many printers only print on one side. If you’re printing something that doesn’t need to look professional, use an already printed scrap page.
  2. Assemble a stack of once-used papers. Turn them all upside down, then bind the top with staples or brads.[2]
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Method 3
Method 3 of 4:

Recycling Around the House

  1. Shredded newspaper can be turned into an effective cat litter. All you need is some baking soda.
    • Shred the paper, preferably in a paper shredder.
    • Soak the paper in warm water. Add a small amount of biodegradable dish soap.
    • Drain the water and soak again without the soap.
    • Sprinkle baking soda onto the paper and knead the mixture together. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
    • Crumble onto a screen and let dry for a few days.
  2. Use old newspaper to wrap gifts. The Sunday comics are especially effective due to the many colors.[3]
  3. Use old paper to stuff a package for shipping. Wrap fragile objects in layers of paper, and fill the gaps in the box with crumbled wads so that everything stays snug.[4]
  4. You can use paper bags to make book covers for your old and new hardbound books that you can decorate however you’d like.
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Method 4
Method 4 of 4:

Recycling Through a Waste Management Service

  1. Ask them about their available recycling services, as well as any recycling centers in your area. Ask them for details on what can and cannot be recycled.
  2. Different areas have different policies on what they can accept, but here’s what generally will and will not be taken:
    • What you can recycle: Newspaper, magazines, maps, packaging (except frozen food), envelopes, cardboard.
    • What you can’t recycle: Waxed paper, laminated paper, pet food bags, food-soaked paper, frozen food boxes.[5]
  3. If your waste management company offers recycling, then take your sorted recyclables out to the curb in the recycle bins on trash day.
  4. If your local sanitation company doesn’t support recycling, or you have too much to fit into a bin, pack up your recyclables and take them to your local recycling center.
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Community Q&A

  • Question
    What happens to the paper I recycle?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    It is used to make new paper and the process repeats itself again and again, each time decreasing air pollution.
  • Question
    How can the recycling of paper conserve resources?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Simple: recycled paper is often sold to manufacturers. They dump the paper in a water tank to turn it into pulp, clean the pulp, filter it, and then manufacture the recycled pulp like it was the fresh stuff. Typically it's a little cheaper as well because you're not having to go through whole process of buying wood from lumber yards and milling an entire tree down.
  • Question
    How can we recycle paper?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Soak paper in water. Add glue and mix to a pulp. Place pulp at top of a tea towel and spread. For further smoothness, cover with another tea towel and use a rolling pin, then iron it until it dries.

About This Article

Kathryn Kellogg
Co-authored by:
Sustainability Specialist
This article was co-authored by Kathryn Kellogg. Kathryn Kellogg is the founder of, a lifestyle website dedicated to breaking eco-friendly living down into a simple step-by-step process with lots of positivity and love. She's the author of 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste and spokesperson for plastic-free living for National Geographic. This article has been viewed 187,532 times.
3 votes - 33%
Co-authors: 25
Updated: May 5, 2023
Views: 187,532
Article SummaryX

To recycle paper you have lying around the house, tear it up into strips and use it as mulch in your garden or add it to your compost. You can also save it to wrap gifts with. If you have a cat, tear the paper into strips and mix it with water and baking soda to make your own cat litter. If you're packing for a move, crumple up the paper and stuff moving boxes with it. You can even make your own notepad with the paper by turning all of the sheets upside down and stapling them together at one end. If you want to learn how to take your paper to a recycling service, keep reading the article!

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