Uses for Old Phone Books

Gold Post Medal for All Time! 858 Posts
February 4, 2010

Old Phone BooksMore than 500 million phone books are distributed in the United States every year. Unfortunately, only a fraction of them ever see the inside of a recycling bin. Like newsprint, there are a number of ways to reuse phone books in the garden.


Make Seed Starting Pots: Roll 2-3 phone book pages snuggly around a small jar, making sure it is loose enough to slide the jar out. Fold the excess length across the bottom of the jar and secure it with tape. Now you have a biodegradable seed-starting pot that can be transplanted directly into the garden.

Eliminate Odors: Wad up several individual pages and stick them into your gardening shoes or boots overnight to help absorb moisture and eliminate odors.

Make Hat And Shoe Forms: Stuff crumpled pages into hats and shoes to help them keep their shape while in winter storage.

Press And Preserve Flowers: Place flower heads face down between the pages of an old phone book. Close the phone book and place several heavy objects on top. Check back in 2-3 weeks to see if your flowers are dry.

Make Kneeling Pads: To make it waterproof, bind the phone books together using duct tape or wrap them with in an old shower curtain.

Suppress Weeds: For a no cost mulch option, use a layer of pages (8 to 10 pages thick) around garden plants to block out light and suppress weed growth. Top with a thin layer of grass clippings or leaf mold to keep the pages in place.


Create Seed Envelopes: Deconstruct an old envelope to see how it's made. Use phonebook pages to make new envelopes in the sizes and shapes you need to store your garden seeds.

Ripen Fruits: Speed up the ripening process by wrapping tomatoes and pears in individual pages. Store them in a cool, dry place until perfectly ripe.

Pack And Store Bulbs: Run pages through a paper shredder or wad them into balls and use them for packing material around delicate bulbs.

Use For Worm Bin Bedding: Tear up pages by hand or run them through a paper shredder before using them as fresh bedding. Use only the white pages with black ink. Some colored inks contain heavy metals, which may be harmful to your worms.

Make Compost: Like newspaper, phone book pages are considered "browns" when composting. Tear the pages up or shred them first and they will go quickly!


Make Fire Starters: If you have an outdoor fireplace, fire pit, or chimera, roll up individual pages tightly into logs and use them as kindling to start fires.

Clean Up: Rip out pages and use them like paper towels to wipe off tools or clean glass.

Prop Up Pots: Use old phone books to elevate potted plants off the ground. Wrap them up in plastic bags to make them waterproof.

Stop Leaks: Place a few phone book pages over the drainage holes in the bottom of your flower pots to allow drainage without losing soil.

Eliminating Your Extra Phone Books

For many of us, the age of Internet and cell phone technology has reduced our need for phone books. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop new phone books from piling up on our doorstep, whether we need them or not. In an attempt to solve this problem, a Missouri college student has started a national movement to stop the delivery of unsolicited phone books through a website called


The website allows users to fill out an "opt out" form, which is then forwarded to phone book publishers. The form requests that phone books stop being delivered to your current address and tells publishers that if you need a phone book, you'll call and order one. This action doesn't guarantee you'll never be sent another phone book, but it does shift responsibility onto the publishers to act in accordance with your wishes.

The goal of the campaign is to provide consumers with a way to encourage the industry to change its wasteful practices voluntarily, but if necessary the organization may also seek to get a National No Delivery Register enacted similar to the National Do Not Call Registry.

Do you use old phone books in the garden? If so, I would love to hear about it.

For more information:

Read More Comments

4 More Solutions

This page contains the following solutions.

March 27, 2012

After getting so many phone books delivered to my home that I don't really need, I started to put the pages to some use. Here are some of the ways I use them:


February 17, 2006

For those who use newspapers for cleaning windows, mirrors, lining wastebaskets, etc. I find a neater and more compact way is to use pages from an old telephone book.


November 25, 2008

To reuse old telepone books, take off the front cover and use them like hot pads for keeping hot pans from touching the surface of your counter. The pages are available and they are good for protecting fine crystal when laid in the bottom of your sink.



Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

August 8, 2007

Here is advice for recycling old phone books in crafts posted by the ThriftyFun community. Post your own ideas here.

Use Pages For Messy Jobs

I keep mine and tear out a page to use when I am using glue, paint, stamping and for other craft projects. Then they can be thrown away after use and a new page used.

By Barbara Hickson

I, too, use the old phone books for when I am hot gluing, and then rip the page(s) out when I am through to have another clean work surface. I also use them for a pad underneath my work when I am using an X-acto knife.

You could also use them for a booster seat (if the books are taped securely, making sure they won't move around.)

By Shirley

Make A Christmas Tree

Years ago, they used magazines and by folding the pages in half some way formed a Christmas Tree shape and spray painted them.I've seen them but I really couldn't tell you how to go about making them.

By Sharon, Ky

We make table trees out of them for holidays and center pieces. It is very time-consuming but fun for all ages. You take the top corner of each page and fold it down towards the center making a half triangle of each page top. Do this individually to each page of entire book. You can decorate by painting, glitter, or any way you like. I also like the way it stands all by itself.

By Crystel

A long time ago my Mother used to turn down all of the pages half way and then spray paint the entire TREE and that was a door stop and Christmas tree for the holidays. Wish I had a picture for you. Good Luck.


By Sally

Paper Mache Material

You can tear the pages out and use them in a paper mache type project. Cover an old box, vase or glass to paint after it dries. Have fun!

By Monica

How about papier mache? Or shred the pages for compost or for pet bedding; could you then sell bags of it for a very small amount?

By Attilathehen

Thrifty Ideas

There was a post recently with links to templates for envelopes. I like that idea and got some nice magazines from someone on freecycle last night.

If you want to save paper towels you uses for pan fried bacon, try putting a thickness of yellow pages on the platter under only one paper towel. You get the same effect as you do with several paper towels!

By melody_yesterday

Make A Step For Exercising

I read somewhere that the best use for old phone books is to stack them together and bind them with duct tape to keep them sturdy. Then use them for your step-exercises.

By Hope

Flower Press

I use mine to press flowers such as pansies and when dried (about a week) I use the flowers to make cards or lots of things. I am sure the kids would love to do this

By Jan

Transparency Dryer

I use them to dry overhead transparencies that I use for teaching. I just rinse the transparencies and put them in the phone book with several pages in between. The pages absorb the water so I don't have to worry about drying them and they don't get stuck together.

By Allison

Homemade Footstool

I have used them by binding several of them together with duct tape. Then I use them for my senior grandmother under the chair she sits in as a foot stool. It seems this would be perfect in a senior citizens home! Also once in a while, she gets chilly so we move the already bound books over the nearby air vent to keep it from blowing on her.

By KimiSunshine

Child's Booster Seat

Stack them 6-8 inches thick then tape them together and cover with contact paper. Now you have an attractive booster for the snack table. Pass them on to the parents for a booster at the dinner table.

By Catherine D

Leave The Old One In The Car

When we get a new phone book we put the old one in our cars, they have come in handy when you need a phone number.

By Carol

Parrot Chew Top

If you have friends that have large parrots (Macaws or Cockatoos), and medium parrots (Amazons, conures or Hawkheads), drill a hole through the center of the phone book, knot the bottom of a chain (about 10-14 inchens long) so that the phone book won't fall through the chain, use a "G" screw lock to fasten the book to the top of the bird's cage. They will have a good time chewing it apart. It's one of the best free "busy" toys for a parrot.

The chain link can be bought at Home Depot or Lowes for about a $1 if you or your friends don't have any at home after the parrots have chewed their way through wooden block toys.

By MaryAnn

Planter Stands

I have used my old phone books as planter stands. Using a commercial glue, stack the phone books one on top of the other and glue between each one. Place them in a spiral tower and wait until the adhesive has bonded them together. Using old paint, paint each one in a different colour, then when dry apply a coat of varnish. Make sure that they are well balanced when assembling them. Good luck

By Elizabeth


August 9, 20070 found this helpful

I get 2 huge phone books where I live. Plus a small "local" one. I do have one use for the large ones now. I have a cat who has to stay in now because some coyotes have moved into the neighborhood.(Much to my dismay.)
I can put the phone book on the floor and open it and my cat uses it as a "scratching post". He loves tearing up the paper. Then it's easy for me to throw away. But I like some of the other ideas given here and I'm going to try some of those also. There is never a shortage of phone books!

By Grammiecracker (Guest Post)
August 9, 20070 found this helpful

The chain link can be bought at Home Depot or Lowes for about a $1. if you or your friends don't have any at home.
By MaryAnn

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE BEWARE! Not all chain is SAFE for your birds. You have to use either stainless steel (which is expensive) or nickle plated chain.. Other chain will most likely be TOXIC to your birds. We use the nickle plated here at the rescue. In fact, I gave this suggestion a while ago on here. You can also use COTTON rope to tie. (no nylon center in the rope)
MaryAnn, Please pass this warning on as well if you tell folks about the phone books for birds. Our birds LOVE them. The ink is soy based so it is safe.

By Ellie (Guest Post)
August 9, 20070 found this helpful

Or you can just put them in the recycle bin!

August 10, 20070 found this helpful

I live in another state than my family so I give them my old ones which has come in handy many times for them. For example when my husbands grandmother passed I didnt have to look up a florist for my parents to use. They had all the info they needed!

Answer this Question
Better Living Green Living ReusingMarch 28, 2012
Valentine's Ideas!
Birthday Ideas!
St. Patrick's Ideas!
Better LivingBudget & FinanceBusiness and LegalComputersConsumer AdviceCoronavirusCraftsEducationEntertainmentFood and RecipesHealth & BeautyHolidays and PartiesHome and GardenMake Your OwnOrganizingParentingPetsPhotosTravel and RecreationWeddings
Published by ThriftyFun.
Desktop Page | View Mobile
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Generated 2024-02-05 13:19:51 in 16 secs. ⛅️️
© 1997-2024 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved.