7 Ways to Reuse Toilet Paper Rolls

February 9, 2009
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Yesterday was unseasonably warm for February. We were outside playing without jackets on, and I even had the windows open at one point. Which made me kind of sad when I came in to my living room and looked at my fireplace. Soon enough it was going to be spring, and another season of making fires would be over. Sure, I’d like longer days and warmer weather, but I really love having a crackling fire going on a chilly night. Also, I love having my fireplace as an outlet for reusing cardboard rolls from inside toilet paper. As I discovered last year, if you stuff these rolls with dryer lint, you’ve got an awesome firestarter.

While I could always just recycle the toilet paper rolls with my cardboard, I really like the notion of reusing them instead. I mean, when it comes to the 3 Rs of reduce, reuse and recycle, reuse is the one that you should really be shooting for. Yes, recycling items is great, but if you can reuse what you’ve already got in new and creative ways, you keep items out of the waste stream and you might just save yourself some dough.

With that in mind I started to brainstorm additional ways you might reuse cardboard rolls from toilet paper and paper towels. It’s a topic I’d covered before but, like with Freecycle etiquette, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit it. So here are my 7 ways to reuse cardboard tubes like you’d find inside toilet paper and paper towel rolls.

1. Cord control. You can buy these fancy cord contraptions in the store that funnel all of your electrical cords in a single line so that you don’t have tangles under your desk. Well, a cardboard tube can do the same and for free. True, the cardboard version isn’t as pretty but at least it’s free and functional.

2. Art projects. I’m sure someone with a young and creative mind can figure out a way to turn cardboard tubes into a robot or guitar or another kind of musical instrument. I would recommend maybe stockpiling these rolls for awhile, then giving them away to a teacher your know or via an “offer” listing on Freecyle.

3. Seed starters. With spring right around the corner, you can use old cardboard tubes as seed starters. This article on eHow explains how to transform these tubes into little pots for your future garden.

4. Holiday decorations and storage. I’ve heard of people making Christmas wreaths from toilet paper rolls, creating Christmas crackers out of them and, as I wrote about previously, using them as a frugal storage idea for holiday lights.

5. Plastic bag storage. Yeah, I know, we’re all supposed to be bringing our reusable bags to the supermarket, but sometimes you forget (slap on the wrist) and you end up with a plastic bag or two. So why not take an old cardboard tube, stuff some plastic bags in it, then place it in the trunk of your car? Now you’ll never be without a go-to garbage bag when you need to clean out the car or take the dog for an impromptu walk.

6. Eyeglasses case. OK, so I don’t expect that a cardboard roll is really going to protect my eyeglasses from getting destroyed (though this craft project on Green Daily is quite pretty). But you know what? If I had a toilet paper tube on my nightstand–and I slipped my eyeglasses in it each night before turning out the lights–I would probably have an easier time finding my glasses in the morning. You see, my glasses are frameless and when I’m not wearing them and am looking for them, they blend into my nightstand. But a cardboard tube? That would probably stand out. Speaking of stand I would recommend standing the tube on its end to hold your glasses. Otherwise, they might roll off and onto the floor and then it will be CRUNCH in the morning.

7. Rodent playground. I don’t own any rodents, but I understand from people who have them that toilet paper and paper towel rolls make great makeshift Habitrails for gerbils, hamsters and mice. Then, I guess, when they tire of their playland, they can chew them to bits.

Have I missed any reuses?

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5 Responses to 7 Ways to Reuse Toilet Paper Rolls

  1. 10 Tips for Earth Day « Suddenly Frugal Blog on April 8, 2009 at 11:53 am

    [...] reusable serving pieces instead. Also, figure out ways you can reuse items around the house like toilet paper rolls or rubber bands so you can keep them out of the [...]

  2. Biologist on February 18, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    before taking them into other room of the house, It might be a good idea to look at these cardboard roll things under a microscope to make sure they don’t carry any germs from being present in a toilet for a few days exposed to moisture+germs in the air, etc.

  3. goodapple on February 14, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Great ideas!!

    I especially like the seed starters because I almost picked up a plastic tray yesterday for just that purpose but put it back down and thought “I can find something better than that”. And now I have!

  4. Jen Miller on February 9, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Great point about firestarters. My mom uses cardboard egg crates stuffed with wood shavings (she’s handy and so’s her family, so they save them), all drizzled with the ends of candles. They work great, and the candle wax makes them last longer.

  5. leahingram on February 14, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Glad you found this helpful advice! And it saved you money, too.

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