Simple Steps to Recycle Your Own Paper

Many of us throw paper in our recycling bins without too much thought, but believe it or not, people have been making paper for 2,000 years. In the U.S., we’ve been recycling it for more than 100 years. Paper recycling might seem like the sort of thing best left to paper mills, but it turns out you can recycle your own paper at home without too much trouble. You’ll be able to eliminate some household waste — like junk mail, used printer paper, or old wrapping paper — and create something unique and handmade at the same time.

DIY, Homemade

Paper recycled by hand works well for making cards and gifts. Photo: Flickr/myhsu

What You’ll Need:

  • Waste paper (almost anything will work — just avoid glossy paper like magazines)
  • Water
  • A blender or food processor
  • An old picture frame
  • Mesh or screen (can be found at a craft store)
  • Felt, cloth or sponge
  • A rectangular bin to hold water (a 13” x 9” pan would also work)
  • Decorations like dried flowers, confetti or seeds (optional)

Plenty of instructions exist online for how to make your own paper. The Daily Green offers a straightforward video tutorial, which makes the process easy to understand, and’s Chemistry section has a simple set of written instructions. To give you a general sense of the process, we’ll summarize how it works.

DIY Paper Screen

A mold made of a frame and screen helps form each sheet of paper. Photo: Flickr/myhsu

Learn how Paper Gets Recycled

Main Steps:

1. Tear the paper into small pieces and put into a blender with warm water. Blend until the mixture becomes a fairly smooth pulp.

2. Assemble your “mold”; attach your screen to your frame using duck tape, staples, or any other method that will keep the screen affixed to the frame’s edges.

3. Pour the pulp into your bin or pan, then sink the mold into the water mixture. Pull the mold up, and pulp should cover the screen. At this point, you can add decorations. You can even add seeds to make plantable paper. Be sure to add a little more pulp to cover the decorations so they adhere to the paper.

4. Use a cloth or sponge to press out excess water. Now you need to let the paper dry. You can let it dry on the screen, you can flip the mold over and let your paper dry on another surface, or you can press a cloth into the mold so the paper adheres to it and can dry on the cloth. Any of these options should work. Just be sure to let your paper dry for a day or so.

Check these steps out in action, courtesy of Storm the Castle:

If you’re looking for more resources related to paper recycling, visit the EPA or

Pin for later:
Interested in learning how to recycle paper at home? Check out this simple tutorial that will teach you exactly what to do to make your own paper.

Looking for more projects that use household waste? Read: 10 Funky Ways to Reuse Old Magazines

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on March 8, 2015. It was updated on June 10, 2016, with new links and images.

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  1. Hi, can you tell me why my done recycled paper is easily torn off especially when I’m writing on it? do you have any solution or suggestion? that would be really helpful, thank you

    1. Paperweight, or its density, has much to do with the durability of the paper. If you have a lightweight paper made with recycled fiber, which are shorter than virgin fibers, it can tear. So, you create heavier recycled paper to get a reliable writing surface.

      We hope that helps!

  2. I will be doing this with my girls while school is at home. My dad made paper back when I was little and we used a wire coat hanger and pantyhose. So, if you don’t have screen hose does work too. ?

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