How can I reuse or recycle toilet roll tubes?

toilet roll tubes
Oh, I know. How very Blue Peter. Except we don’t have very much need for a model of Tracy Island.

We don’t use kitchen rolls that much so mostly have the shorter toilet roll-size tubes lying around the place.

Short of just recycling them in our green bin, what are the alternatives?

Best Suggestions

  • Reduce: Look for toilet rolls with more sheets per rolls and if you’re really keen, swap to washable clothes for post-wee wipes :)
  • Reuse: Use them as pots for seedlings – put a little scrunched up newspaper in the bottom and fill with soil. The seedlings roots can grow through the wet cardboard when needed so you can just plant on the pot as is.
  • Recycle: Cardboard can be recycled through many local recycling schemes but can also be put on the compost heap/in wormeries – great for soaking up excess water. Alternately, fill them with scraps of paper, wood and/or pinecones and use them as firestarters.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

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66 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle toilet roll tubes?”


  1. john says:

    They make good rodent toys.

  2. STJackson says:

    I cut toilet roll tubes in half (and kitchen roll tubes into quarters) and use them as plant pots for seedlings. They’re as good as peat pots – and better for the envrionment and cheaper too.

  3. Cathy says:

    I’ve make a very low tech desk tidy with mine. I’ve studk three together like in your picture and stuck them to a circle of card.

    Very Blue Peter I know.

    • So have I!!!! P.S. I love blue peter, especially the making bit. The people who make that must have very artistic minds…

    • Xochi says:

      what or who is blue peter?

      • neelikescrafts says:

        I did this too. I painted them up nice, and then I put my paint bottles in them! I’m considering putting them on to a piece of scrap wood and hanging it on the wall.

      • Ruti says:

        Uk kids magazine style tv programme

      • Lizzy says:

        *gasps*

        I’m pretty sure it’s in the top few longest running TV shows ever – and apart from the news probably has had the most episodes.
        It’s a childrens programme , and it has making stuff, the presenters doing things, (skydiving etc.) and history things and yeah, lots of stuff….*sigh* happy days….

      • Blue Peter is a British TV show started in the 60′s and always has at least one “make” per week. Big influence on me and my work.

  4. Mike says:

    Organise your power leads: Slackly fold each cable back and forth a few times and push all the loops through a cardboard tube.

    Depending on the thickness of your cable, you can get a few in each tube.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is what I have done with mine and they fit really nicely into a lychee box that I got from the market and they stack really well as well.

  5. Mel says:

    With the longer kitchen roll tubes, you can store a bunch of carrier bags inside each tube. Leave a tube of bags near every bin in your house!

    • Delusion says:

      ooh I like the idea of that, especially leaving one near every bin… I always need to reline bins and hate traipsing back and forth!

  6. jay hanley says:

    cover both ends with newspaper and rubber bands after half filling with pistaciao nut shells to make that percussion instrument mentioned on the other thing

  7. Rachel says:

    You could donate them to a primary school in your area. They are perfect for kid’s art projects.

    • fluffymummy says:

      You can use toilet rolls at schools but they must be sterilized – 3mins in microwave on full power and don’t burn yourself removing them!

  8. Kriss says:

    Why not to fill it with clay to get a brick for dividing walls, or some built in furniture?

  9. Amanda Kerik says:

    I used about 10 of these to make a rolled-up poster holder – I glued them in a honeycomb pattern.

  10. Anteater says:

    Give them to someone who has a pet hamster. They can put it in the cage as a sort of toy (a tunnel that the hamster will go through).

  11. Laura says:

    Might sound dumb, but I always thought it was a cool and creative way to make a unique envelope. Without breaking it, you can flatten it and address it, then staple or (thoroughly!) tape the ends shut. As long as the postage and address are correct, it will go through the postal service as intended.

  12. Melinda says:

    I’ve used them as molds for making giant crayons. I separated old crayons into basic primary colors, melted them down and poured the wax into the tubes with waxed paper on the ends, held with elastic. There was a little leakage, but not much. This uses up old crayons well, too.

  13. sue says:

    toilet rolls are very germy think about how a roll is changed does the user get up wash hands then change roll then sit again? I hope pre schools and primary schools are no longer using them, especially for music. they just need to go in the mulch or the recycle bin.

    • Ruti says:

      Yes, you are right – Primary schools can no longer take them because of health and safety- same for playgroups and nurseries.

  14. Fishcake says:

    Use them to make homemade chrismas crackers.
    cut into thin bits and decorated as serviette rings.

  15. Bronte says:

    Use them as the body for home made dolls the kids love to make them.
    Pipecleaner arms and legs wool for hair all great fun!

  16. greeni says:

    wow look at all the stuff u can do with a spair toilet roll!

  17. Rose says:

    Can be made into Christmas crackers with a bit of tissue or crepe paper wrapped round them. You could even splash out and buy snaps from the craft shop!

  18. caro says:

    i stuffed them with pinecones – they made great kindling… such a nice woodsy smell and so effective

  19. cath says:

    i am making an igloo sculpture out of them so am collecting them.

  20. jan1972 says:

    Sue, toilet rolls can be steralised with a quick blast in a microwave oven. The school I worked at almost 10 years ago was doing that to them then, so I assume that most schools will know of this now and be doing it at standard practice.

  21. Charlie says:

    I actully have over 150 toilet roll tubes so I am looking for a bigger project.

    If you are wondering how I came to collect all these it was a rank that went horribly wrong. I just cant now seem to throw them away.

  22. lizzie says:

    I think that are useful enough to do “cartapesta” (i dont know what is in english)the technique to make venetian masks, bowls, dolls even little fourniture ,room divider screen (over styrofoam), you immerse them into water for a day, the paper will separate into 2 sheets,you rip the paper using your fingers very important and then you can glue it over the piece you want,overlapping paper on paper sparsely to copy the shape and after many layers of paper it will take hardness, al least 15.let it dry and decorate…it took time and patiente but it gives vast possibilities

  23. Debbie says:

    You take them and fill them with the dryer lint (also recyclable) and they make great fire starters. Also, no one mentioned cutting them long ways and making Christmas cones. You twist them to the cone shape and staple them, then cover with Christmas paper and lace and glue a ribbon in the top and hang them on the tree. Some people go so far as to fill them with wrapped candy -yummy!

  24. VP says:

    You use them instead of earthing up leeks on your veg plot. I posted a picture and article on my blog last month:

    http://vegplotting.blogspot.com/2007/11/winter-veg-care.html

    OR you can use them instead of rootrainers for seeds auch as peas and beans

  25. molliewobbles says:

    also this one from the same site (diff person though)

    http://www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/small_animal_kong

  26. Jo says:

    They are absolutely perfect if you have a wormery which is getting too wet. Rip them into pieces and add them – the worms convert them to lovely compost!

  27. Vicky says:

    My dad has reused one as a pen holder in his car. He taped one end up and has put it in the door compartment in his car to stop all his pens sliding about. ( you could obviously paint it first so it looked less loo roll like if needed!)

  28. Audley says:

    Cut a small hole approx. the diameter of your pinky finger near one end.
    Make a tinfoil bowl and fit it into the hole.
    Poke a few small holes in the screen with a pin or needle.
    Put a small amount of weed in the bowl.
    Light it. (Cupping the end of the roll with the palm of your hand)
    Inhale. (Letting in small amounts of air from the ‘cupped’ end as needed)

    We called these toilet roll pipes “Dirters”..

    An excellent way to recycle toilet rolls.

  29. Tilly says:

    Just saw this quick you tube vid for making them into seedling pots – brilliant!

    http://myzerowaste.com/2009/01/making-seedling-pots-from-toilet-roll-inners/

  30. scarcity says:

    oh iv just got an idea u could laminate it with colorless foil paper and seal one end the other end perforate it like it looks in salt shakers then u can use it for spices, salt, etc

  31. J says:

    Flowers!!

    http://dollarstorecrafts.com/2008/12/flowers-from-tp-rolls/

    I bet you’d never believe these were made out of toilet paper.

  32. Sarah121 says:

    I have had a spark of insperation instead of simply putting them by your bin side full of bin liners install a hook above your bin and then peirce a hole in your tube and thread through a small peeice of rope then hang above your bin.It works! and saves space also the tube dosent keep topperling over every time it gets top heavy!Try IT!

  33. Andy says:

    The problem with a lot of the ideas to use for kids craft stuff is – What happens to it once they have made their rocket or castle and displayed it in their bedroom for a few days?

    The bin! because usually theirs plastic, cardboard, pipe cleaners, glue, paper, paint all mixed in.

    So my thought is “childerns craft” wouldn’t be a great option to say “you’ve recycled it”

    Anyone think the same?

    • Agricultura says:

      Actually, I don’t. When the kid makes that doll, castle or whatever, many things happen:
      - he/she is doing something creative, instead of passively watching TV. This is by itself important.
      - he/she is doing something new, instead of painting again (besides, when he paints, again you must throw away stuff later)
      - he/she learns in a fun way how great it is to reuse “rubbish”.
      - you have the chance to spend quality time with your kid, having fun too!

      All in all, when you make a rocket out of a roll, the primary use of the roll is not “making a rocket” but having fun”.

  34. craftsy says:

    cut them so they make a rectangle and flatten them
    then stick pretty paper over it and make a mini scrap book
    it’s great for a gift.
    just hole punch the pages together and bind them with ribbon

    it looks really neat at the end!

  35. mimi says:

    cut it so its a rectangle
    flatten
    cover with pretty paper
    stick photos…etc on
    bind ‘pages’ with hole puncher n ribbon
    voila
    a scrap book!

  36. Doris Anderson says:

    I use toilate paper rolls to store extention cords or cords to the computer etc. Just make a small lassu (Spelling?) and stuff cords through the center of the roll. What’s great about this is that you can wright on the outside of the roll what the cord is to, like the food prosser or whatever. Also makes storring of your cords neat and keeps them from tangeling.

  37. custardy says:

    I made a really handy stationery holder. Cut the tubes different sizes, painted them and stuck them together on a piece of card. Neat!

  38. As a child I used to give them as toys to pet Girbils and Hampsters.

  39. Gero says:

    I just made card holders out of them. They work PERFECTLY.
    here’s mine:
    http://i.imgur.com/3Dgzg.png
    made from a toliet paper roll and recycled paper from an unwanted college brochure.

    REALLY easy to make

  40. Hi says:

    I cut it in two and put my silk worms (when they are ready) to cocoon… :)

  41. supergeeky says:

    You can use them to separate pairs of socks in your drawer, molds for candle making, mold for scraps of wrapping paper, cat/dog toys (either as is or filled with bells, rice or something else and closed off)…

  42. Anonymous says:

    I use it to make generators

  43. Gemma says:

    Cut a vertical slit in the tube, so that you can clip the tube around another cylindrical object. Instant retaining band for keeping wrapping paper, rolled-up posters, etc. tidy.

  44. Oksana says:

    Cut the roll along the length, and use cardboard tomake a blending tool for an artist.

  45. scarcity says:

    you can make art work with this if ur interested in experimenting paint them and arrange them in different ways to form a pattern or you can experiment by stacking em tog to make a partition wall.


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