Q: I get a lot of junk mail every day and want to recycle it. What are some ways I can use it?
A: There are dozens of ways to use junk mail up. I am sure I am not alone when I say I hate junk mail. I get enough to fill a large Rubbermaid bin each month and for many years tossed it out. I have tried different tactics to stop the mail from coming, but in the end, I still get tons of it.
- Cat Litter: I cannot believe I purchased cat litter for 16 years before realizing I already had tons of it free in the house. Now I lay a newspaper size publication on the bottom, and on top of it dump shredded junk mail and even shredded bills. The coolest part of this is I feel comfortable that no one will try to steal my personal information after my cat has ‘used’ it.
- Mulch: Shredded “cat litter” can also be used as mulch to keep moisture in your flowerbeds. If you do not like the look of the shredded junk mail, put a thin layer of pine straw on top. You will still save a ton of money.
- Packing materials: Use shredded junk mail as packing materials. Just be careful not to use anything with personal information on it.
- Paper Mache: Any junk mail printed on newsprint is perfect for paper mache projects. If you do a lot of paper mache projects, sort these types of junk mail into a separate bin and keep them with your art materials.
- Grammar and writing: Cut out words and keep them in baskets. You can use them to help your children write letters, learn parts of speech, and to make up sentences with. It is a fun way to teach grammar.
- Stickers and Address labels: These come in the mail several times a year. If you did not request them, you do not need to feel obligated to send anyone money. I put these address labels and stickers in baskets to use when I need them. Occasionally I send a donation when I want to, but sending a donation means you will only get more solicitation for more money.
- Keep catalogs for art collages: Children are always looking for magazines to cut pictures from. Let them use catalogs instead so you can keep your magazines intact until you have read them.
- Re-use envelopes: Using your free return address labels, and a couple of blank labels, you can re-use most return address envelopes that you get in your junk mail.
- Make scrap paper: Keep a card-sized box for scrap paper and note pad paper. Take any junk mail that is blank on one size, cut it to size and put it in your scraps box.
- Make envelopes: Envelopes are quite easy to fold, and you can find many examples online. You can take any standard piece of paper and fold your own envelope. Bright colored pieces of junk mail with pretty pictures work great. Just add labels for the address and use a return address sticker. They will also be noticed first by the recipient.
- Make dish scrapers: If you own any Pampered Chef pieces, you know they give a little plastic scraper to keep it clean. Junk mail ‘credit cards’ can also be used to scrape a pot or pan clean.
- Make balls for the kids to play within the house. If the weather is bad and the kids are antsy, go to your junk mail bin and make small balls for the kids to play within the house. When they are done, just throw them away.
- Use CD’s as coasters or wall art: Junk mail CD’s have many good uses. I like to put them under candles to catch the wax. They can protect your table from moist glasses, and can be hung in a pattern to make a creative feature wall.
- Use envelopes for shopping lists and to hold coupons: I like to use large junk mail envelopes to write my shopping lists on. I put my coupons inside of the envelope and write the store I plan to shop at on the front.
- Magnets: Business card magnets come in the mail from time to time. You can glue your own business card to the front, or cut it in smaller pieces to make a few business card magnets.
- Use it as confetti: If you are even in the market for confetti, use a fine shredder and throw in the most colorful pieces of junk mail you can find.
- Use junk mail to start fireplace fires. Wrap small stacks of junk mail firmly with twine, and put it in a basket to use as fire kindling.