Give It New Life: DIY Recycled Paper From Junk Mail & Cardboard (Easy & Fun!)

Do you have so much junk mail and cardboard boxes at home and you’re wondering what to do with it? I have an idea. It’s a fun and environmentally responsible alternative for you. Let us transform that “trash” into treasure by creating lovely DIY recycled paper items such as lampshades, bowls, and vases.

Not only will you save trash, but you will also produce something genuinely one-of-a-kind for your house. My fiance, Iasmina (@lajatattoo), and I tried this at home and the results are lovely. Let’s get started on this easy and enjoyable DIY project!

DIY Recycle Paper Project

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups of paper pulp
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 cup of rice glutinous flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Acrylic glue (depending on the size of your objects)

Step-by-Step Procedure:

  1. Tear up paper or cardboard and add it to a bowl: Start by tearing your paper or cardboard into small pieces and placing them in a bowl. This will make the blending process easier.
  2. Cover with water and let it sit overnight: Soak the torn pieces in water overnight. This helps to soften the paper, making it easier to blend into a pulp.
  3. Blend until you achieve a paste: Blend the soaked paper until it turns into a smooth paste. This step is crucial for creating a uniform texture.
  4. Strain the paste with a cheesecloth: Use a cheesecloth to strain the paste, removing excess water. This step ensures that your pulp isn’t too wet, which can affect the final product.
  5. Add 1 cup of plain flour, 1 cup of glutinous rice flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 cups of paper pulp: Mix these ingredients together in a bowl. The combination of flour and salt will help bind the pulp together, creating a clay-like consistency.
  6. Mix and add a bit of water until you reach a clay-like consistency: Gradually add water to the mixture until it feels like clay. You want it to be pliable but not too sticky.
  7. Use a beeswax wrap as a sheet to shape the item you’ve decided to create: Lay out a beeswax wrap and use it as a base to mold your item. Whether you’re making a lampshade, bowl, or vase, the beeswax wrap helps hold the shape.
  8. Measure and carve the middle hole to fit a light bulb (for lampshades): If you’re making a lampshade, measure and carve out a hole in the center to fit a light bulb. Ensure the hole is appropriately sized for your light fixture.
  9. Leave it to dry overnight: Allow your creation to dry completely overnight. This ensures it hardens properly and maintains its shape.
  10. Once completely dry, you can paint it with a natural color and coat it with acrylic glue: After your item has dried, paint it with natural colors. Once the paint is dry, coat it with acrylic glue to seal and protect it.
  11. It’s important to let it dry completely before coloring and sealing it with glue to prevent mold and rot: Ensure everything is thoroughly dry before applying any paint or glue. This step is crucial to avoid mold or rot.

Note: You don’t need to worry that the lampshades will be a fire hazard! It’s not because it’s been processed with water, flour, and salt. But of course, please always use it with care. Remember that safety first is important!

Tips for Success

  • Experiment with Shapes: Don’t limit yourself to just lampshades, bowls, and vases. Try making plant pots, decorative plates, or even wall art. Your imagination is the limit!
  • Use Natural Dyes: For an extra eco-friendly touch, use natural dyes made from fruits and vegetables to color your creations. It’s both cost-effective and a very good way to practice zero waste.
  • Gift Your Creations: Handmade items make great gifts. Consider making a few extra pieces to give to friends and family, they will surely appreciate the art and the effort.

We enjoyed the process so much and I hope you’ll enjoy it, too. By transforming junk mail and cardboard into beautiful, usable things, you are not only decreasing trash but also promoting a sustainable lifestyle. So, the next time you have a bunch of papers and boxes, don’t throw them out. Instead, see their potential and create something amazing.

Happy crafting!