According to household paper product producer Kimberly-Clark, the United States produces 17 billion toilet paper rolls each year. That's 160 million pounds of trash! Keep reading to find out how you can put these items to use and eliminate a portion of this staggering amount of waste.
TOILET PAPER ROLL RE-USES
- Start Seedlings: Instead of purchasing biodegradable starting pots for seedlings, just use toilet paper rolls. Cut each roll in half then put them in a tray, packed against each other so they don't tip when you water the seedlings. Then fill each pot with seed-starting mix, gently pack it down, and put in your seeds. When you get ready to plant the seedlings, remember to break down the side of the roll and make sure all of the cardboard is completely buried.
- Store Electrical Cords: Do you have a lot of computer or appliance cords tangled and underfoot at your house? Or maybe you have trouble storing extension cords when they're not in use? Just fanfold the cord and pass it through a toilet paper tube before you plug it in. This is an especially effective way to keep hairdryer, curling iron, and flat iron cords tidy in the bathroom drawer. (For more cable help check out our article on Cable Mangement.)
- Store String: Tangled string is just as frustrating as tangled electrical cords and both problems have the same solution. To keep your string tangle-free and ready-to-use, cut a notch into each end of a toilet paper tube. Secure one end of the string in one notch, wind the string tightly around the tube, and secure the other end in the other notch. This method also works for crochet yarn and sewing thread.
- Curl your Hair: Toilet paper rolls actually work great as hair rollers! Roll your dry hair in toilet paper rolls that you either secure with bobby pins or clips, then leave them in for about an hour. When you unroll them, your hair will be fuller, smoother, flowing, and with subtle curls.
- Organize Underwear, Socks, and Pantyhose: Have you ever lost any of these personal items in the great untamed hollows of your suitcase? Simply pack them individually inside several toilet paper rolls to keep them organized and easy-to-find when traveling.
- Keep Napkins Crease-Free: Now that you've taken our advice and begun using cloth napkins instead of paper, you're probably sick of dealing with the creases and wrinkles that come with washing and drying them. All you need to do is wrap your cloth napkins around toilet paper rolls before putting them away, covering them with plastic wrap first to prevent stains, and you'll have crease-free napkins every time. Organize Garbage Bags: Stuff a garbage bag inside a toilet paper roll, then tape the roll to the back of the garbage can where it won't be visible, so you'll always have a spare.
- Store Plastic Bags: Never be without a plastic bag in the car or when your dog needs a walk; just keep several inside a toilet paper roll that's easy to put in the glove compartment or your bag.
- Keep Bugs at Bay: Cover a toilet paper roll with transparent tape, sticky side out, and hang in areas where you have problems with flies and mosquitoes.
- Make a Sheath: Flatten a toilet paper roll, duct tape one end shut, and you have the perfect sheath for a picnic/camp knife.
- Make a Kazoo: Simply cut three holes in the middle of a toilet paper roll, cover one end with wax paper, secure with a rubber band, and you've got a kazoo for a bored kid (or yourself). Expert Village has a video showing the finer points of kazoo construction.
- Make a Maraca: Cover one end of a toilet paper roll with a small square of construction paper and fasten it with a rubber band. Then fill the tube with dried beans or uncooked rice; experiment with different amounts and materials for different sounds. Once you have the right amount of beans or rice in the roll, cover the open end with another square of construction paper and secure with a rubber band. You can wrap the entire tube with construction paper or white drawing paper that you secure with glue, and then have your child decorate the paper with pain or markers.
- Make Craft Animals: Visit easy-child-crafts.com for detailed instructions on how to make a toilet paper roll into a bat, elephant, or rabbit with your child.
- Make a Pet Toy: Put a couple toilet paper rolls in your hamster, gerbil, or mice cage: your pet will love running and walking through them, as well as chewing on the cardboard.
- Store Hair Bands: Keep all your elastic hair bands on-hand and in one place by wrapping them around a cardboard toilet paper tube.
If re-using your toilet paper rolls doesn't work for you please consider the following as an alternative to sending them to the local landfill.
- Donate: Contact your local senior facility or elementary school to see if they would like toilet paper rolls for their craft or art classes.
- Recycle: Put your toilet paper rolls out with the recycling, or take them to your local recycling center.
- Compost: Get rid of toilet paper rolls naturally by adding them to your compost.