Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
I cut the envelope open with a letter opener (unless the flap can easily be opened without cutting). Uses: store coupons, to do lists, store receipts.
If it has see through window on back, with plastic then when I am done with the envelope, I cut that out with border to use for crafts. Put 2 back to back and put a fortune cookie paper inside. Glue 3 sides then fill with confetti or glitter. Seal 4th side = gift tag.
Use the inside and outside to write lists, etc. If it has flap reuse for mailing or see above. The insides: find and cut out my address-use as return label on mailings with glue stick. There is normally an extra envelope or 2 use them! Colorful paper gets saved for crafts; confetti, paper punches and shredded for packaging gifts.
If there is plain paper with a blank side it gets saved for lists or writing on. Any images that can be saved for collage get saved, too. If you have to store anything fragile save the unusable paper and scrunch for protection. Anything else unusable gets recycled!
By cara from Kent, OH
I take all the junk mail and newspapers that come to our home and shred it and use it for mulch in my garden. It is very colorful and works great. I will run it through the shredder or let my grandkids cut the paper up. They have a really good time cutting and spreading. The paper helps keep the grass down, but be sure to water well so the mulch will stay in place.
By Mariyn from Lewisburg, TN
I save envelopes junk mail comes in and use it to stash my coupons and shopping list when heading to the grocery store.
By Becki in Indiana
I've mentioned this before but methinks my tip is too cheap and easy for most people to accept.
Use a spring clip to hold them in a pad. Use both sides of the pad. When more than half of one page is used up, move the spring clip to the other end.
Source: I'm too cheap to buy Sticky Pads. They are way too expensive!
If you are like 98% of all Americans, you get mail you would rather not receive (and I'm not talking about bills - who wants those). Here are a couple suggestions of things to use that unwanted mail for.
I always date mark my cans when I bring them home so I know to use them on time. More and more, labels are too slippery to write on and I hate the smell of markers
I use the unprinted side of paper from ads, bills, and other letters received to copy and print grocery and drug store coupons. Paper that hasn't been printed on either side is saved for important correspondence.
The first thing I do upon receiving my AARP magazine is tear out those pesky mail-in reply cards that make the magazine difficult to handle, but before pitching them, I check for blanks. Since I do not regularly stock postcards, these are a handy substitute for business-related needs.
Before I throw out the junk mail that comes through the post (in the recycling bin of course) I cut out the address.
If it is blank on the other side I use it as scrap paper to write on. If not blank, I put it my recycle bin.
Many of our ads and coupons come in envelopes. Many of the slips of paper inside are printed on only one side! They are all cut the same size, so I pull them out, staple them in the corner and viola a nice tablet!
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
I want to use junk mail as printer paper. I was wondering if anyone has an idea of a way to fade the writing on junk mail so that I can print something else on it and be able to read it. I would prefer not to use chemicals.
I don't think you will be able to remove the ink without chemicals; and even if you were willing to use chemicals, it seems the cost and trouble would erase any savings in using your junk mail this way. I don't know about your junk mail; but I know most of mine is printed with colored ink on coated paper; and I don't think you'd be able to re-use that for the printer, at all. You can easily re-use flat paper that only has print on one side, just put that in your printer, so that it will feed with the blank side for printing.
You can recycle junk mail in making homemade paper; but it is not generally suitable for printers, though it is a lot of fun to make and use.
To save money and resources when printing: set your printer to default to "draft" mode, you will save a lot of ink; and also set the default to black and white. (You can choose color or high quality for those occasions when you need it.) Purchase the least expensive printer paper you can, and be sure to print both sides. If your printer cannot do this automatically, only feed one sheet at a time, so you can reverse it and run it through the next page.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, think twice before printing. Can you save the page to your hard drive instead? Can you copy the information (by hand) onto scrap paper? Do a "print preview" before printing from the internet. Very often, you only want one or two pages, but with all the ads and comments, you get six or eight! If all you want is 2 pages, or specific pages, only print those!
Ideas for using junk mail in a productive way. Post your ideas!
I put a stack in my camper along with dryer lint I save in an empty coffee can. It's great for starting campfires when we are camping.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
Ideas for using junk mail in a productive way. Post your ideas!
Every time there is junk mail, I keep all the return envelopes and the papers. I will use the blank side of the paper as shopping lists. Then I put all my coupons that I will be using that week plus the shopping list into the envelope. That way, I never buy more than I have to and at the same time save money on the items that I will be buying. Hope this helps people stay organize and save money at the same time.
By Wendy (09/12/2004)
I have a two year old daughter that loves to color and after I sort the mail I let her use the junk mail papers to color her little heart out. (09/13/2004)
If there are nice colors in the paper, you can use it for colored papers to make greeting cards, cut flower petals, etc.
You can use the return envelopes to keep seeds in. I used to store seeds in various little plastic containers, but they're a lot more compact in envelopes. Put them in a box, label the tops, and you have a filing system for seeds.
Use pieces of junk mail to do gluing or painting on. Saves cleanup and your desktop.
Use nice pictures or colored designs that are on catalog covers. You can make envelopes out of these. Fold and glue. Use white labels for your addresses. Sometimes my friends laugh at me for this one. But hey, it makes them laugh!
I have a little mailbox for my 2 1/2 year old. When junk mail comes in for those kids book clubs or magazines (they often have a sticker or two in them) or anything colorful, I sneak it in her mailbox. She has a blast going to check in her playroom if she has mail, and she has fun looking at the pictures, finding stickers, opening envelopes, etc. (09/13/2004)
If you really hate unsolicited junk mail and object to the amount of trees being cut down to make something that is immediately consigned to the bin, (and if you're feeling evil!), you can wrap a brick in brown paper and attach the reply paid envelop to it and post it back to them, at great cost! If you aren't feeling quite so evil(!), and have no use for the junk mail, request to be taken off their mailing list and save the world's finite resources.
By Jo Bodey
I reuse the envelopes for everything as well, both personally and professionally. When I was a teacher I asked the parents to send them in and I explained that they were a budget savings. They didn't mind saving them for me or getting notes in them from me.
I tear pages out of catalogs and us them instead of toilet paper to wrap those "monthly items" before tossing them. I got this idea from my mom. She got tired of all the T.P. being used up since she had two daughter in the house!
I use colorful magazine pages to make envelopes. Just open a pre-made envelope to use as a pattern and trace and glue. Instant envelope!
I am sure I have more ideas, but can't think of them right now!
I have an extensive cardboard plate and statue collection. I just glue the pretty pictures onto cardboard. I put an ornament hook through a small hole and sometimes cover them with clear contact paper and foil on the back. The plastic foil (Mylar?) that covers tubs of cottage cheese or lines some snack bags is great for this, also the aluminum foil tops on some nut cans, they even have a tab on them to punch the hole through and sometimes are interesting textures, too.
I also open out the snack bags and hang them where they will reflect colored lights at holiday time. It makes more sparkle and if my cats knock them down nobody gets hurt.
However I just got an idea I may have to try. Open a wire hanger, bend it into a ring, squiggle up the Mylar and run it onto the hanger to make a sparkly wreath then twist hanger back together. Oh yeah, I do have to try that. The Mylar has colored print on the outside and silver on the inside. It's aching to be used by the crafty. (09/21/2004)
A great use for shiny junk mail is to make paper beads. Cut one inch strips of the paper (or however long you want the bead to be) and start wrapping the short end around a pencil or a wooden skewer. Glue the last half inch or so. Give it a few seconds to set then slide it off the pencil/skewer.
If you have a neighbor who sells Avon beg them for their expired books. Go through their trash if you have to. They make the prettiest beads! I've made who-knows-how-many beads. It takes just a little practice to get where you can make beads from a whole sheet of shiny junk mail. Since they are former wood they have a nice little weight to them and are not as fragile as one might think they would be. When you get enough beads of the colors you like, you can make beaded curtains for doorways or windows, or just a hanging for the wall. A great rainy day hobby.
Shiny food ads: cut the food out and glue it onto a big piece of cardboard or wood and make a collage for the kitchen.
Cut out interesting parts for kids to make collages. (09/26/2004)
All I can say is I have no patience for junk mail! I hate it! I recommend sending any junk mail back to the sender in their own self addressed stamped envelope, this way they spend the money on their own junk! See how they like getting junk mail!
Haa Haa Haaa! (10/04/2004)
I have a junk mail cutting and sorting session every once in a while. I have a lot of deco hole punches so I use a lot of it right then and there. I put the shapes I punch out in cigarette cellophane sometimes and secure with a small piece of tape. Some of my favorite shapes I put in pill bottles until I have enough of what I want. If the paper is sturdy enough I string some of them with a bead in between and chain stitch a nice gift tie or use them to drape or dangle off the rear view mirror in my car.
I save the canceled stamps off of junk mail and give to a lady who's church sends them to a mission to do things with.
I often cut the glue strip off and save to use as labels on my pill bottles of shapes and when in a real pinch, I reuse large envelopes. Just moisten the glue strips and cover over the original mail info or use stickers.
I keep a boot box handy for the scrap paper I save and add to it regularly, (thinking of the movie Water World when a little paper to them is a "big deal" to have !) I have saved so much junk mail scrap I have given several pounds of it to a friend with kids, most of it is very clean. I usually trim away the writing; it's easier to pick from when it's cleaned up.
I packed it tightly into zippered curtain bags: the nice kind that seems to have a dozen or more uses!
Making me wonder now if as a regular person in no position over others, if I would be able to successfully organize and carry out a junk mail drive. Some of the cig mail has some really pretty paper, stuff I don't see everyday, so it would make sense to me, that even if you don't smoke, to get on the mailing list for just the paper and then give the coupons to a friend or leave them for someone to find at the store!
Sorry if you're offended on behalf of the trees. You can also cut the corners off the envelopes and use them to mark pages.
Last night I realized after I posted this a new use for those book club, CD club, and other kinds of stickers used for mail order, like Yves Rocher. I used my small flower hole punch and cut out several flowers to use on mail and some bigger size frogs from a place on the sticker sheet. I stuck one on my pc. I love it. Also if you have old thin magnets sent by advertisers, if you get rough you can punch out hole punch magnets to better suit you! I made a whole sack full one day out of magnets that weren't pretty
Do you get a lot of white envelopes coming through your post box? Well don't throw them away, cut them up and use to write your shopping lists on.
By Maria UK
Editor's Note: Or you can keep the envelopes together and put your coupons in the them. (10/10/2004)
Use for card making and other crafts. Often papers have nice patterns or colours and letters can be cut out for wording. I use the envelopes to post my own mail by sticking labels on. (10/11/2004)
IMPORTANT! My daughter just got diagnosed with lead poisoning and after eliminating all other possible theories, I was told by her docs that giving a child who puts paper in their mouth ANY glossed or color print flyer, ads, magazines, or papers can give her lead poisoning. The process that is used to color them contains lead. I hope that this will help another parent from the current worry we are feeling. (10/13/2004)
My husband uses envelopes, etc. as scrap paper. I line the birds cage with larger advertisements. (10/27/2004)
I take the junk mail I receive and separate it into colors. Then I take my blender (I have one specifically for this) add some torn paper and water. It doesn't really matter how much water. You just have to make sure that it has a liquid consistency. I then take the mush and place it into a cookie cutter that has a back. You know the ones that are sort of difficult to make cookies with, but have great details. After making sure all your nooks and crannies are filled with the paper-liquid, press with fingers to remove the water and ensure paper completely filling all of the surfaces. Let dry. They must be completely dry before removing the paper from the mold. It usually takes a day or so unless you place in a very warm place. I have used the oven for drying, but used metal molds. I don't really know if you can use the plastic molds in the ovens. I put the temp on the lowest possible setting. Anyhow, after removing your dry mold you can paint or just leave plain. I use old makeup for rosey red cheeks, white eye shadow for Frosty's coloring. Then poke a hole in the top using a needle and hang by a string or ribbon. These make great gift tags, ornaments, or just Christmas decorations. They can be as simple or extravagant as you want. (10/29/2004)
I keep all the 8.5 by 11 sheets that are only printed on one side and put them in the "bad paper" pile next to the computer printer, since one side is still good for printing things that will be used only around the house. (01/22/2005)
If you have toddlers or pre-schoolers, they love getting mail! They can play post office, or just enjoy opening them up. My sons love the "credit cards" for carrying around in their wallets! (01/26/2005)
I was at a school meeting the other night and one of the speakers suggested that you give the junk mail to your kids to read. It helps build up the areas that they need help in, gives them new words to use, and keeps them busy. Let them read while you make dinner. (01/27/2005)
Keep some junk mail around for your children to play "post office" with or to just draw or write on.
By Robin (02/07/2005)
After removing anything that contains personal info, I save all junk mail and newspapers in a large box right near the backdoor. Those papers are thickly layered under mulch as a weed barrier which actually breaks down and become compost over a season. Next season, simply place another thick layer on top of the old mulch and then new mulch. It saves on water, reduces weeds, and makes good soil for your planting beds. You can also use the paper layers between vegetable garden rows. Water well to prevent blowing around at first. (02/14/2005)
Any stickers that come with the mail such as the ones that want you to choose a credit card photo, I put in a stack for my grandson to play with. He loves stickers. The envelope I write grocery lists or to do lists or things to check out on the internet. I keep them in a stack next to where I sit. Any of the other regular paper that is non slick goes into our fireplace. All the rest into the trash. Unless there is a photo of something I can use for making cards or decorating packages. It really saves on the trash.
By RoseMary (02/18/2005)
I too make beads out of the Avon catalogs. The colors are bright. I catalog the beads by the most showing color. I use the pattern that goes from big to tiny that looks like a very long triangle and much smaller. I take out the staples and cut the beads the entire long length of the paper. Most of the time I go from 1/4" to a point and I use a toothpick to wrap it around. I also glue the last half inch or so. I don't wait until it dries because I always take a piece of candle wax and rub the toothpick first or use cornstarch. Just so the bead doesn't have a hard time coming off. I also make beads using a strip of the paper that is the same size beginning to end. I seal them and string them on a piece of thin wire to dry. Do as many coats as you like. There is a Triple Thick Crystal Clear Glaze by Krylon that works really well also. I have taken junk mail and done the same thing. If you are into it, you can also make square beads by layering it with a toothpick in the middle. Don't forget to prime the toothpick first. If it is uneven you can sand it down.
I also put the junk mail pages in the blender with water and Aleene's OK to Wash It glue. After I have taken most of the glued water off I put a blown up balloon in an empty can upside down and layer the pulp on it to cover the bottom and sides to the depth I want. I then set it aside to dry. Be patient. If I want, I paint it and seal it. Because it has the Aleene's glue in it, it holds together quite well and self sealed, but just a little. I use the end creation for bird feeders, plants, etc.
I print out water release decals on my printer and add them if I want. I wasn't aware of the lead content until the posted alert. You would be amazed at how durable it is. I suppose you could use any glue you have or no glue. I have made shingles for milk carton bird houses, bricks, jewelry, etc. I am going to try and make a dog house this summer using a plaster of Paris mold and making it look like an igloo. The mold I have has six sides and I think it will be fun. If you use the screen you use to make paper, only making it much thicker, letting it dry in sheets, you can use it for birdhouses and small items rather than using wood. Just remember to seal it. Use your imagination. The use is endless. I could go on forever with ideas for junk mail. Actually instead of calling it junk mail, it should be called a crafter's delight.
I am going to check on the lead content. Thanks for letting me ramble on. (02/19/2005)
I stamp all my junk mail with my "special" stamp and drop it back into a mailbox near my work. It reads: DECEASED - Return to Sender. It seems to work. I decide to drop the stamped mail back into a mailbox other than my own because I didn't want to confuse my maillady! But I like the ideas about sending their junk mail back to them in the return envelope ;) I wonder how heavy I can make one? (02/24/2005)
We have a paper shredder in our home office, so I just shred all of out junk mail and use it as bedding for my pet Bandicoot! He loves it and it's so much cheaper than buying proper bedding from the pet store! Plus it makes me laugh that all that annoying junk mail is getting used as a toilet!
I'm sure this would work just as well with any other similar pets: rats, ferrets, chinchillas, etc.
By Valerie S, Watford UK
All the junk mail, the advertisements from newspapers and the newspapers are given to the vet, who uses it to line the cages of his animal patients. (03/29/2006)
I use junk mail as the base ingredient for my rocket engines. The glossy color section are the best. They make a great fireworks display! (05/23/2008)