5 Resourceful Ways to Recycle Your Old Magazines

Nifty ways to reuse paper.

by Michaela Fulton | Thu, November 09, 2017

In an attempt to lead a greener life here in Shanghai, we've collated some creative ideas that we can all try in order to recycle old magazines.

1. Magazine Christmas Tree

Magazine Christmas Tree

For those with tight-knit flat space, you might feel that a proper Christmas tree might be a little too overbearing for the floorspace available. However, with this nifty recycling idea, you can feel festive and reuse some of those old magazines that are taking up space on your coffee table or bookshelf. When it's complete, you can decorate it with glitter, spray paint and even some shiny baubles if you have them.

Time taken: 10 minutes for an 82-page magazine.

What you'll need:

  • An old magazine

What's next?

1. Grab your magazine and break the spine by flipping it open backwards. You'll want to push hard along the length of the spine.

2. Carefully tear the front and back covers of the magazine off, otherwise you're going to have a mighty gap in your tree. Be sure to leave the spine of the magazine intact when you do this though.

3. Now, with the 'first' page of the magazine, take the top-right corner and pull it down so that the top edge of the page aligns with the spine.

4. Fold the page this way one more time.

5. Finally, you'll be left with a flap at the bottom of the page. All you need to do next is tuck this into your folded page so that it forms a straight edge on which your tree will stand.

6. Repeat for all pages of your magazine and your tree will be complete!

2. Origami Heart

The art of folding paper has been teaching us all to transform flat sheets of paper in remarkable little sculptures and shapes. However, instead of using up new sheets of freshly bought paper, recycle your magazine instead.

What you'll need:

  • Square pieces of paper, cut from your old magazine

What next?

1. Once you have your square piece of paper, you'll need to fold the top-right corner down to meet the bottom left. And repeat on the other side.

2. Rotate your piece of paper so that one of the corners sits North of the rest. Then, fold this top corner down to meet the center point of all the creases.

3. Now, fold the bottom corner up to meet the top of the paper, but let that tip overflow just a little.

4. Next, you will need to fold the right-hand side of your paper towards the center of your heart, aligning it with the inner crease. Then repeat this with the left-hand side too.

5. Turn your piece of paper over, and fold the pointed corners inwards.

6. Finally, all you need to do now is turn your paper back over and your lovely origami heart is complete!

3. Colorful coasters

Colorful Coaster

Keep those fidgety fingers busy and protect your tabletops all in one go with these colorful DIY coasters! With your leftover magazines, you can create some intriguing and sturdy coasters to use throughout the home.

Time taken: 30 minutes.

What you'll need:

  • A colorful magazine (the thicker the paper, the better)
  • A penknife

What next?

1. Find the page you would like to use and bend the spine of the magazine as much as possible to break the glue. If you use a penknife to score the glue, it should come out perfectly intact. Do this for four pages of the old magazine, they will decide the color scheme of your coaster.

2. Fold the paper in half, lengthways, and press down hard to create a crease. This will make it easier for you to slice the paper along it, which you will do next.

3. Fold the half in half again and slice. By the end of this process, you should be left with four quarters from the magazine page.

4. With one quarter, flip it to the side of your preferred color and fold in half.

5. Fold both edges inwards, and fold this strip in half to create your weaving strip, which creates a "v" shape. You'll need to make 16 of these.

6. To start weaving your coaster, lock two of your "v"s together to create your base.

7. Take a third strip. The base strip should go into the "v" of this.

8. Take another strip and weave it on top of the base. You'll need to continue adding strips to this base.

9. As you continue to weave, you will find that the ends of the strips are not yet finished. To ensure that they do not move out of place as you work your way up the coaster, you will need to trim off one side of the strips and then fold the remaining over to gauge the length.

10. The base strip is long enough to be tucked into two squares. If the strips are longer, you can trim them.

11. To complete your coaster, continue to weave your remaining strips through. You can create a tighter weave by folding down the alternate strips.

Top tip: a strip should always be wrapped over another strip.

4. Magazine butterfly

This is a great little trick for turning old paper into cute decorations that you can stick around the house, or in your children's bedrooms. With just two materials needed, your little ones will want to make them by the hundreds!

Time taken: 5 minutes.

What you'll need:

  • Two pages from a magazine that is full of color
  • One pipe cleaner

What next?

For the top wing:

1. Fold your magazine page diagonally so that the edges meet. Cut off the spare paper to create a square.

2. Holding the square paper so that one corner points towards you (and one away), then fold it – concertina style. Children under five may need help with this part.

For the bottom wing:

1. Fold your magazine page in hald and round off the corners with a pair of scissors. 

2. Open it back up and fold this concertina style too.

To create the butterfly:

1. Place both top and bottom wings wogether and wrap your pipe cleaner around them. The loose ends of the pipe cleaner will become the butterfly's antennae.

5. Magazine flower

Magazine Flower

Tired of your fresh flowers wilting so soon? Create a vase filled with colorful flowers from old magazines! Brightening your home and reusing old paper at the same time – efficient.

Time taken: 2 minutes.

What you'll need:

  • A colorful magazine
  • Scissors
  • Wooden sticks
  • Tape

What next?

1. Take out a colored page of your old magazine.

2. Fold your page in half and trim the open edge until the paper has a width of around 3-5 centimeters, depending on the size you would prefer.

3. On the folded edge of your paper, use your scissors to create small slices along the entire length of your folded paper. Be sure to leave a centimeter unslices though! These will be the petals of your flower.

4. Tape a wooden stick to the unsliced edge of your paper. The tip of this should meet the beginnings of the slices.

5. Carefully wrap the piece of paper around the tip of the wooden stick to form your flower head! Secure with tape.


Be sure to visit Shanghai Family at the Eco Design Fair this weekend! We'll be promoting the benefits of recycling and reusing old magazines at our booth.

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