How can I reuse or recycle … brown paper?

Brown paperAs I might have mentioned before, John and I write a geeky webcomic together and we sell geeky t-shirts based on jokes from the strip. We decided we’d only sell the tshirts if we could do it right and were lucky enough to find a printing company with a good ethical & environmental policy. We also send the shirts out in recycled envelopes or (for more orders of multiple shirts) in brown paper parcels because those one-off plastic posting bag things seem excessively wasteful.

We hope that our wonderful tshirt buyers recycle or compost the paper or envelopes but I thought it couldn’t hurt to come up with a few more reuse suggestions. We’ve already covered envelopes so anything specific that brown paper is good for?

Jack and Jill used it, along with vinegar, to fix his head but away from the world of nursery rhymes, what else could it be used for?

(Photo by lusi)

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24 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … brown paper?”

  1. Heather says:

    I always keep any brown paper that comes my way. I use it when I’m packing something to ship and any leftovers make great gift wrap.

    I ball up the paper, so it’s uniformly creased, and then draw on it with markers, or cover it with potato stamp designs.

    The prettiest one I’ve made used white, water-based paint and a star-shaped potato stamp.

    Your gift wrap can be personalized, it saves the cost of buying gift wrap, and (if you use appropriate paints and decorations) it’s still recyclable at the end of the day.

  2. No fair! I was going to suggest gift wrap as well. Add some recycled twine and a cute tag and you’ve got a great “coutry” style gift.

  3. Nicole says:

    Brown paper is lovely for art projects. I’ve used it to make papier-mâché sculptures and boxes, as a backdrop for collage, and as a nice brown background to mount drawings on. Even if it’s wrinkled it looks nice.

  4. This idea may not be practical – it depends on the size of the brown paper sheets that you need. Paper is made by soaking fibrous materials such as paper then stirring it up with a blender in water to get a very dilute pulp.

    You put your dilute pulp in a tank, and prepare a frame of the size that you need, with gauze stretched in the frame. You dip the frame into the tank and raise it, with a side-to-side shaking motion to tangle the fibres together.

    Let it drain for a few seconds, then tip it off to dry. You have just created a sheet of paper – or seeing that you started with brown paper you have created a sheet of brown wrapping paper.

    If you are really creative you could learn more about craft paper making and make a feature of the interesting recycled paper wrappings round your products.

  5. Beaweezil says:

    Lots of left over paper can be used to sheet mulch in the garden. I just recently used up all I had saved up and expanded the garden for next year. Just layer up lots of paper, compost and mulch right over any grass you are wanting to get rid off and let it sit. Also referred to as lasagna gardening I believe.

  6. Frannie says:

    All kinds of paper can be used to make paper bricks or logs to use in a fireplace, woodstove, or outdoor fire. No joke! Paper is originally made of wood, after all. ; ) This is handy for lots of leftover paper including flyers, newspaper, gift wrap, etc, though preferably not glossy coated stock.

    Check out these links for more information:

  7. AliceJ says:

    Any waste paper that’s not glossy I compost. It’s really good for adding carbon and stopping the heap getting too gooey or smelly, and if you scrunch it up it leaves air pockets through the whole heap which is very very good for it!

  8. Aine says:

    Hmm, don’t know about brown paper packaging, but brown paper bags are great for making popcorn in – just pop some kernels in, shoe it in hte microwave for 4 minutes, nad hey presto!
    But why not use the brown paper for storage – protecting th eitems – in attics?

  9. dddana says:

    use it to wrap up the kids school books, this way they can doodle on their books and at the end of the semester you can recycle it.

  10. mickkkyyy says:

    dsvcda\b,ns mryjh

  11. Tiffany says:

    my mom always used to cool her choc chip cookies on them–it absorbs some of the extra greasyness!! It gives the cookies that extra mom goodness!

  12. Teledyski says:

    I always use a redchat when i’m shy.

  13. Michele says:

    My daughter and I are redoing her room using brown paper…it’s contractors paper we are using but you can use paper bags also. Just tear into sizable pieces and glue (white glue watered down) to the walls….we are painting a light brown over it to accent the edges. Looks sort of like leather when finished.

  14. Vicky Carlson says:

    tape it on the table for messy art projects. Also could be used same way for kids to decorate and color. Later show it off.. hang it up on some clothes line strung up in the room.

  15. Draes says:

    My sister asked me to make a memory-book for her then-boyfriend. Cut ‘pages’ of the brown paper roughly the same size – as many as you think you may want. Crinkle them up then smooth them back out. Two sheets of cardboard or one long piece folded twice in the center to make a spine will form the cover. More brown paper crinkled up, smoothed out, and torn into irregular chunks and strips are then pasted with watered-down glue over the entire inside and outside surfaces of the cardboard in overlapping layers – gloss over the whole surface when done if desired. Punch corresponding holes in the edges (or along out-side of folds if using the one-piece cover method) and in edges of pages, then thread through with twine and tie into bows. The knots may be secured with glue if you’re sure you aren’t going to want to add more pages later. Now it may be treated like a scrap-book, pasting bits of nostalgia on the pages and decorating however you please. It ends up looking like an interesting old-fashioned/rustic/fantasy-style book and has a pretty durable cover.

  16. mormonsim says:

    I just saw this great ide on tree hugger it was a wall papered in brown paper bags. the cool thing is that if you get a hole all you need is another paper bag! It looked fabulous. Who knew?!

  17. katie says:

    My friend and I were school supply shopping when we saw the’s pencil cases made out of recyled koolaid juice boxes, after that we thought we should do stuff like that. So now were making all sorts of things out of paper or plastic bags, candy wrapers and lots more!

  18. Bad Monkey says:

    Brown paper makes excellent blotting paper when you spill anything greasy on clothing, get sheet of brown paper, and iron over the stain and it will bring it out, also great for making ur crease really sharp in ur trousers.

  19. Letty says:

    I ask my children to color a page out of a coloring book or draw and color one of their own designs – sufficiently large to cover any supermarket image on the brown bag. Then fill with shredded paper and the brown bag is reused as a gift bag. A country style bow for the gift bag is easily made from strips of brown bag. Also, a brown bag gift tags decorated or written on with a colorful crayon or marker provides a finished touch. We never need to buy a gift bag, and if we need a smaller one, well, we just cut the bag down.

  20. HuntingWabbits says:

    1. Substitute for packing peanuts
    2. When it’s straight, it can be used to cover up a hardcover book so the edges don’t get bent.
    3. wrapping paper for shipping.

  21. Tammy says:

    I use it by tearing it into strips and adding it the my worm bins. The worms will break it down into usable worm casting fertilizer and the paper also helps with the moisture level in the worm bins.

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