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5 Recycled Art Projects And Gift Ideas Using Old Magazines, Newspapers & Phone Books

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By Joshua

I walked home the other day and found a phone book at my door. As a kid, I actually used to read them for the advertising. (I had an interest in marketing.) Now, I recycle them.

Recycle Papier Mache

Come to think about it, I probably haven’t opened a phone book to look for a phone number since about 2010. We have the Internet to help us find the phone numbers we want.

But I always feel pretty guilty throwing a perfectly good phone book right into the trash.

Since I love to reuse, repurpose, and recycle old phone books, magazines, and newspapers, I’ve decided to use my phone book for purposes other than looking up phone numbers.

Here are 5 fun recycled art projects using old magazines, newspapers, and phone books:


#1 – Rip A Phone Book… Impress Your Friends

You read that right… You can tear a tear a phone book in half!

It’s easy. And, if I can do it, anyone can! This is one of my favorite ways to recycle old phone books — for FUN.

Then, you can use the torn phone book pages for ideas #4 and #5 below!


#2 – Make A Recycled Waste Basket

remake-it-plastic-bag-trash-canInstead of throwing your old magazines away into a trash bin, why not make one?

This craft project is really simple and requires only an hour or so and a few items:

  • ReMake It! trash can
  • A few old magazines
  • Cereal box
  • 2 ribbons each about 12 inches long
  • Box cutter
  • Clear tape
  • Scissors
  • Ruler

The steps are easy, and if you follow along with the ReMake It trash can weaving instructions you should have a pretty cool-looking, upcycled trash can in no time!


#3 – Wrap A Gift

IMG_6183This is an idea that I’ve used in a pinch when I had to give a gift but either forgot to buy wrapping paper or was just too broke to afford a roll. (Been there once, believe me.)

Newspaper makes a great eco-friendly gift wrap!

Even better? Use a section of the paper that the recipient may like. For example, when I have used newspaper as gift wrap, I used the comics section. (That’s fun, right?)

I’d probably use the stock report for a friend in the financial industry, or sports section for my jock buddies.


#4 – Pack Items Inside A Box

newspaper-packing-boxSince we’re on the gifting kick, here’s another idea I use quite often. I just used this one last Christmas…

If you’re giving a gift that’s packed inside a really huge box (which is a great way to throw off somebody who’s being gifted something tiny, like jewelry), you can stuff the interior of the box with recycled paper from a magazine, phone book, or newspaper.

Just crumple the pages up loosely and stuff them lightly into the box.

Don’t jam the paper stuffing too hard, though. You might crush the gift inside the box.


#5 – Make A Papier-Mâché Project

papier-mache-maskWhen I was a kid, I used to love working with paper mache. This messy but super-fun craft project allows you to sculpt shreds of paper into just about anything you want!

Besides, what better way is there to recycle paper than with an exciting art project?

Papier-mâché works best with a base structure. You can make one from wire hangers.

For your paper mache project, you’ll need:

  • Large bowl
  • Flour, wallpaper powder, or white glue (like school glue)
  • Water
  • A wireframe structure
  • Paintbrush
  • Newspaper or phone book pages, torn into various-sized shreds

I prefer to use the non-glossy newspaper or phone book paper for the best results. Magazine paper and glossy newspaper advertising inserts don’t bond as well, in my experience.

Follow these steps to complete your project:

  1. Mix 2 parts glue and 1 part water, 2 parts wallpaper powder and 1 part water, or 1 part flour and 1 part water into the mixing bowl.
  2. Mix this well with the paintbrush until the ingredients are evenly blended.
  3. Dunk the newspaper strips into the adhesive mixture, letting the excess medium drip off the newspaper.
  4. Apply the newspaper strips over the wireframe molding surface at least 3 or 4 layers deep. Remember, the thicker the layering, the more durable your finished project will be.

This video shows how to make paper mache the easy way…


More Ideas For Recycling Paper