Random Reusables: Toilet-Paper Rolls

July 23, 2008

I try so hard to think about ways to reduce my waste, reuse what I can, and recycle everything and anything my trash hauler accepts. However, I often find myself confounded with toilet-paper rolls.

Are toilet paper rolls considered to be paperboard, like cereal boxes, which means I can recycle them curbside? If not, should they be recycled with regular cardboard? Also, I’m not so green that I’m going to reduce my reliance on toilet paper by substituting leaves or something. I still want my tp, but to ease my green conscience, I have started buying Marcal-brand toilet paper that is made from recycled paper. (Check out this Natural Resources Defense Council chart that compares the recycled content and “green-ness” of household paper items. The Marcal toilet paper, by the way, rates quite well–it’s 100 percent recycled, with 40 percent post-consumer content used.)

So that leaves me with reusing. Without younger children in the house to do art projects, what can you possibly do with used toilet paper rolls? Well, here’s one thing I’ve come up with.

These days, every time I unwrap a new roll of toilet paper, I take the paper wrapping, stuff it on the inside of the empty toilet-paper roll, and put it in the fire place. I’ve also taken to stuffing dryer lint and other kinds of paper in the rolls. I figure that come late fall, when we’re ready to fire up the fireplace again, we’re going to have plenty of “kindling.” My only concern is this: if we go through about one roll of toilet paper per week, pretty soon our fireplace (pictured above) is going to be overflowing with stuff toilet paper rolls.

I wonder how else I could randomly reuse these rolls if we run out of space in the fireplace?

15 Responses to Random Reusables: Toilet-Paper Rolls

  1. dwsupplies on January 27, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Ok this will solve your problem altogether. All you need to do is buy toilet rolls that have no core!

    Yes they do make them. Seriously I know its sound odd and in fact it is. just see for yourselves here.


    Coreless toilet rolls thus solving your storage /recycle issues.

  2. […] know that in the past I’ve shown you how you can use cardboard rolls as fire starters. Well, at this time of the year, hold on to those paper towel and toilet paper rolls, because they […]

  3. HeatherBlueSky on November 28, 2008 at 1:13 am

    I wrote an article some time ago about using toilet paper rolls to start seeds. It eliminates having to purchase seed pots each spring. My article gives step by step instructions for making them. Check it out: http://www.ehow.com/how_4441333_toilet-paper-rolls-start-seeds.html

  4. Leah Ingram on July 31, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks, all, for letting me know that toilet paper rolls are compostable. Problem solved!


  5. Karen on July 31, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I stick my used toilet roll tubes in the compost bin – they break down really well.

  6. Amy on July 26, 2008 at 3:51 am

    I Have used tp rolls to make Christmas crackers, an English tradition that I read about in a magazine and have since seen in the stores with big prices on them.
    Simply fill the rolls with candies and/or small toys, then wrap with gift wrap (or cloth to reuse!) leaving enough wrap or fabric on each end to twist and fasten with ribbon. Give these as gifts in sets of 6 or 8. Place one at each person’s place at the Christmas breakfast or dinner table.

  7. Leah Ingram on July 25, 2008 at 4:01 pm


    I’m going to have to give that a try! Thanks.


  8. Jen A. Miller on July 25, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    I also read a neat idea about turning cardboard rolls of all sizes into a Christmas wreath. I think it was from ReadyMade magazine and involved gold spraypaint. Looked pretty cool.

  9. Leah Ingram on July 23, 2008 at 7:46 pm


    Great idea about contacting Girl Scout leaders. I’m wondering if I should test the waters by putting something up on Freecycle to see if any Girl Scout leaders or other people would be interested in these. I mean, Freecyclers (myself included) will often take the oddest things, if they can get them for free! Thanks.


  10. Daisy on July 23, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Do you know a local Girl Scout leader? They might appreciate the extra rolls for camping and leader training.

  11. Jen A. Miller on July 23, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    You can compost them (along with other non-bleached paper). I like the fire starter idea. My mom uses cardboard egg crates with wood shavings and wax from left over from candles. I’m pretty sure toilet paper rolls would work in that max.

  12. celloluv on July 23, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    I’ve seen where people have requested tp tubes because they have hamsters or guinea pigs who like to chew the cardboard and use the tubes for hideaways.

    Sometimes the schools or other groups do request tp tubes for art projects.

    I like the fireplace kindling and seed starter pot ideas too!

  13. Leah Ingram on July 23, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Cool ideas, you guys. Thanks!

    Keep ’em coming!


  14. katherine Yee on July 23, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    You can cut them in half then fold the bottoms down to make a little container. Then they can be used as pots to start seeds.

  15. ~M on July 23, 2008 at 11:56 am

    I use empty toilet paper rolls to hold cords when not in use so they don’t get tangled or combined with other cords. No rubber bands (latex) required!

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