Abstract made of books

Repurposing is something that is becoming ever more important for our environment. Fortunately, it can be fun to repurpose, too! Today, we’re bringing you a plethora of ideas for repurposing old books so they stay out of our landfills – and continue to bring joy into our homes.

Repurposing: A quick read

Stack of books
There are plenty of fun and unique ways to repurpose old books. Image Credit: Roman Motizov / Shutterstock

How many books do you think are published and sold each year? The number is quite astounding. More than 1.5 billion hardback and paperback books were sold in 2014. That’s a lot of books – and a lot of paper!

Unfortunately, not all of these books are being stored neatly on bookshelves year after year. More than 640,000 tons of books are discarded into the landfill every year. Many books are thrown away before they ever make it to the shelves. Even if they do make it to the shelves, they may end up in the garbage bins without ever making it into the hands of a consumer. The practice of “dumpstering,” or throwing away unsold books rather than returning them to the publisher, is a common practice at bookstores, drugstores and big-box stores.

While we can’t control what these stores do with books (other than getting involved in activism), we can control what we do with the books we purchase and own. Think about how many books you buy each year. What do you do with them? Do you pass them onto a friend? Hang onto them? Or do you (hopefully not) throw them away?

As the KonMari method becomes more popular, people seem to be discarding more books as well (if you haven’t read the book yet, reducing the number of books you have is one of the steps of tidying). If you’re looking to downsize your book collection, consider repurposing any books you can’t sell rather than tossing them in the trash.

Of course, first see if any of your friends or family would like to read the book or see if you can make a few bucks by selling the books. If there are no takers, there are plenty of fun and unique ways to repurpose old books.

We’ve combed the pages of the internet and discovered a plethora of ways to repurpose old books. Here’s a collection of some of our favorites:

A super-secret storage box

This repurposing idea is an oldie but a goodie. If you’re looking for a stealth way to hide valuables or just want an attractive storage box, consider hollowing out an old book. You’ll need a thick book with a hardcover, some Mod Podge, a ruler and an X-ACTO knife or box cutter. This Wiki guide will walk you through the process step by step so your hollow book will stand the test of time. For something a bit less complex, check out this book spine storage box.

The bookworm’s favorite purse

If you like the storage idea, but don’t want to use it in the standard way, how about using a repurposed book as a clutch instead? This tutorial will show you how to make an adorable clutch out of an old hollowed-out book. The process is a bit more in-depth than making a storage box, but the result is amazing. If you’re more of the handbag type, check out this adorable tutorial. While this purse is a little less chic, it appears to hold quite a bit more!

The ultimate furniture repurposing project

Are you the type of person that loves statement pieces in your home? You can make a real statement – that repurposing can be cool – with furniture made from repurposed books. There are many ways to incorporate book repurposing into your furniture. This Branch of Thought Book Bench would look great in a den or a library. You can take reading before bed to the next level with this repurposed book cover headboard. Or how about a fun reading rug made from repurposed books? Your only limit is your imagination.

Spruce up your walls with paper art

Another beautiful way for repurposing books is to create paper art for your walls. Wreaths made from old book pages are becoming increasingly popular across the internet. This tutorial will give you the basic directions on how to repurpose book pages into a paper wreath. Then check out this post and this post for ideas on how you can modify the directions to suit your repurposing style. If you like word art, check out this idea for creating sayings on your wall with books. You can even use repurposed book pages as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional wall paper.

A bookshelf made of repurposed books

Invisible book shelf
What better way for repurposing books than to make a book shelf out of them? Image Credit: Instructables

What better way for repurposing books than to make a book shelf out of them? By making an invisible bookshelf with repurposed books, it will appear as if your books are magically floating along your wall. The shelf doesn’t need to be invisible, though. You can also make a more traditional-looking bookshelf from repurposed books

Picture this: A frame made from a book

Most people have pictures set around their office to personalize the space. This idea for repurposing a book into a picture frame is a great idea for anyone who likes to keep pictures in their office. Since hardcover books stand up easily on their own, they make a wonderful medium for a picture frame. It’s the perfect gift idea for your favorite librarian, teacher or book lover.

Light up those old books

While you can’t use a high-powered light bulb since paper is flammable, you can repurpose a used book into a nightlight or mood light with this method. This lamp shade uses more of the book than many of the other repurposing ideas. If you want something that uses just the book pages, check out this lamp shade. Or for something really unique, check out this battery-powered book light that shuts off when you close the book. What a great idea for a night table!

These are just a few ideas for how to repurpose old books to give them new life – and keep them out of the landfills. Next time you want to get crafty with a DIY project, turn a page in your old books. I bet you could come up with an inventive idea no one else has thought of yet!

What’s your favorite idea for how to repurpose used books?

Feature image courtesy of www.BillionPhotos.com / Shutterstock

By Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.