New Uses for Newspaper

November 3, 2011

Prepper Mindset

Using newspaper as a prepper

Preparedness-minded folks need to keep an eye out for how common items can be re-purposed to be helpful in other ways.  It helps us to think creatively to solve problems, but it has other perks as well.  If you can reduce your trash output, that is handy because someday disposal may not be as easy as the trash truck stopping at your curb.

Beyond that, some things are pretty easy to come by (now at least), cheap or free, and are really multi-purpose once you think about it.  I want to focus on a common one to get us started-  newspaper.

Some Frequent Uses

Newspaper is often what you turn to when you need to start a fire.  It makes great tinder.  Some people even roll and tape or tie them into “logs” for the fireplace.

You may have used newspaper in your last move to wrap your fragile items.  It is very good for that.  You can take that a step further and shred it for packing  material when you ship things.

Lots of people have probably used newspaper along with another handy item, vinegar, to clean windows without leaving lint.

Other Good Uses

You may have never thought of this, but newspaper can be very handy in the garden.  I use it (no glossy color ones) to create a weed barrier around my new plants and then cover that with a layer of grass clippings to keep it in place.  It’s all biodegradable, so at the end of the season, you can turn it in and you’ve added some organic matter also.

Many people use it to create new beds.  They lay it down thickly (8+ sheets) with rocks or something to weight it down and just wait a season.  The grass and weeds are killed, the earthworms come up to enjoy the nice conditions beneath it, and you have a new garden bed with little work needed to prepare it for plants.

Here are some other uses:

  • Multiple sheets are sometimes used over tender plants when cold temperatures are predicted.  It’s lightweight enough not to break the plants, but keeps frost from settling on the leaves.
  • Wrapping underripe produce in newsprint can help protect it in storage as it ripens.  Some people pick all the green tomatoes the day before frost and enjoy them for weeks to come this way.
  • Folded sections make good knee pads when weeding or doing other kneeling jobs.
  • You can create your own paper pots to start your seedlings and save yourself some money.
  • I use shredded newspaper in our worm bins when more dry material is needed.  It readily absorbs excess moisture and the worms can eat it since it’s organic.
  • I’ve never tried this, but some people claim it can be laid across windshields to prevent them from icing.  We do not have a garage, so I will have to try this.
  • Newsprint is excellent for absorbing spills of all sorts.  It’sa great “tablecloth” for art or pumpkin carving.  It absorbs grease under the car or in the kitchen.
  • Balling it up and putting it in damp and/or smelly shoes and boots helps them hold their shape when the dry, but also absorbs odors as it wicks away the moisture.
  • I make shredded newspaper the base layer in our rabbits’ nesting boxes.  It is good insulation for the naked newborns.

I’ve been doing a little study on the Great Depression and how people got through it.  I’ve picked up a couple of tips there too.  People used it to stop drafts in the house. Women used newspaper to make dress patterns. They used it as an extra layer in diapers. “Hobos” often put it down on the ground beneath them when they slept to keep the dampness of the ground from seeping into their clothes and chilling them.

The most common use was probably as insulation or blankets. Homeless or transient people searching for work put it under their clothes to keep in their heat or piled them on top of themselves since they were often without coats or blankets.

I hope our nation never returns to such desperate times, but I’m glad we’re practicing this kind of problem-solving in case it becomes necessary.

What are your favorite uses for newspaper?  Please include them in the comments section.

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8 Comments on “New Uses for Newspaper”

  1. Vincent DiTizio Says:

    i’ve used rolled up newspaper, taped, as an indoor “nerf” throwing stick for practice.


  2. Jeff Says:

    Nothing works better than Newspaper for cleaning windiws/mirrors

    My father and i use to make homemade kites out of news paper
    Really fun for paper mache projects

    We would wrap presents in the Sunday funnies


  3. millenniumfly Says:

    All very good thoughts. Thank you.


  4. Laura Says:

    I didn’t even think to mention the fun and craft things to do with it! Paper mache was one of my favorite things when I was little, and of course the hats, and using the “funnies” as wrapping paper…

    Thanks for all your kind comments, Millenniumfly. Sorry I have been remiss in mentioning them in the past few weeks. Hope things settle down around here soon.


  5. Karen Cook Says:

    It can substitute for fine sandpaper in a pinch (crumple up first) and is good for cleaning windows – although I wonder if the plain packing type is better than the printed stuff.


  6. Jeff Says:

    One More

    I most countries where you buy your meat and fish fresh i is used as a wrapping for you food to get it home.



    • Jeff Says:

      Man that was a bad spelling day!

      In most countries when you buy your meat and fish fresh it is used as a wrapping for your food to get it home.


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