Some of you are looking to make more sustainable choices for your home. No doubt many of you have read articles on how the trash in our homes can serve other purposes. Learning how to get creative and make do with what you have around you is the core of being self-reliant – and what many of us are trying to achieve.
Small Changes Make Big Impacts
One way we can all minimize the amount of trash that comes into our homes is simply to reuse it. Newspapers seem to accumulate the most in homes and knowing its many uses can serve you in a more sustainable manner. Here are give interesting ways you can utilize all of those old newspapers lying around.
Let’s forget about the news portion, shall we, and concentrate on some uses for that old Sunday paper. Firstly, there’s fuel, and as we’ve been doing a lot of articles on woodstoves and winter preps, what could be more in line? Fire starting material for your winter fires is one thing. Another is (during the summertime) making bricks out of torn, soaked newspapers that are place into a press and then compacted.
This Single Paper Log Maker is a great investment for making paper logs. It’s a very simple design. I have one myself. You shred your newspaper, wet it (a plastic bin is best for this), and then form it into bricks by pressing it with the bars of the press you see above. The water squirts out all over the place (do it in your backyard…there’s no room in the bathtub), and you come out with a “brick” that you can allow to dry by setting in the sun. It takes several days to dry, and making these bricks is one heck of a workout! You may be able to make about a dozen of them in a couple of hours. They are compacted, and the burn time varies, although they’ll go for at least 45 min. to an hour.
Newspaper can also be cut into 3” strips, rolled up tightly, and soaked in paraffin for fire-starting material. These guys can be kept in small cans, akin to tuna fish cans after they’re rolled…the tuna fish cans give you about a 2” roll. Then place a wick in them…a real wick…and use them for a candle.
2. Insulation Material
Remember that article I wrote about the importance of having a thermos in the wintertime and in the extreme cold weather? Well, guess what? You can take those coolers and cardboard boxes and further insulate that thermos by: 1. Rolling the thermos up in several layers of newspaper, and 2. “Balling,” or “crunching” up a whole bunch of the newspaper, and then “nesting” your thermos in the middle of your box…to provide further insulation and some “loft” in between the walls of the container and your thermos.
3. Make Your Own Paper
If you are interested in making paper, now is your time to start recycling the newspaper. There are plenty of books and videos that show how to do it. In addition, you can take natural materials such as leaves, grass, dried plant stalks, etc., macerate (chop) them and then add to the shredded-up newspaper. Be careful in this case to use the black and white, and not the colored newspaper, as the colors will leach and make it more difficult for you to blend.
A good supply of newspapers can be stacked and stored within bins. Ensure there are no dripping flammable liquids around, or anything that can potentially ignite them, and store them in a cool, dry place. Store them as they come: flat and compressed as they are when they’re brand new.
4. Emergency Insulation
Newspaper can be used for extra insulation when it is needed, and your vehicle should have a small box/bin with a short stack. You never know when you’ll have to have a fire such as if there’s an accident, or a breakdown that leaves you stranded in the middle of nowhere.
5. Transport Meat and Fish
You can also use it as a field-expedient way to wrap up fish or meat if you need to transport them…as I mentioned, it is not the preferred method, but it is a method. During the winter, it can keep a layer of insulation between the cold and the meat and keep the exterior from freezing. In the summer, it will keep flies and other pests from laying eggs in the meat.
So, these are a few for starters. What uses have you found for newspaper? Any ideas, “recipes,” or useful projects we would love to hear about, so drop us your comments and let us know what things you guys and gals do with yours! Oh, and I almost forgot…what could be more quaint than taking a really-expensive or high-quality gift and wrapping it up in newspaper? A big surprise there that will surely earn a laugh! Keep in that good fight!
Here are some other great ways to use newspaper: