Fifty reasons to keep subscribing to the daily newspaper

23 04 2009

Many years ago, as a reporter at The Miami Herald, I would periodically tick somebody off when I wrote a story that didn’t portray him (or her) in the best light. More often than not, the angered party would let me know that my story would be on the bottom of  bird cages across South Florida by the next day.

I started thinking about those intended insults lately as the bad news mounts in the newspaper industry. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has ceased publication in favor of an online-only format.  And there is no more Rocky Mountain News — period. And papers across the country are shrinking — in page size, in the number of sections, in the amount of advertising and in the number of dedicated, talented journalists they employ. My own hometown paper, The (Raleigh) News and Observer, is a mere shadow of its former self. I can remember the Sundays of old when you practically needed a forklift to raise it off my driveway.

It’s a troubling time in our democracy — not to mention in the households of the frugal-minded. What will folks in Denver and Seattle do when their recycle bins are emptied and their bird cages need changing? Seriously.

I’ve started compiling a list of all the useful ways we use our newspapers after we are finished reading them. After exhausting my own ideas, I turned to the Internet, where I found dozens of lists of how to put your old newspapers to work for you. There’s something for everyone — pet owners, crafters, kids, clean freaks. So think twice, frugal friends, before canceling that subscription.

Here are 50 of those ideas — 50 reasons why we all need to keep subscribing  — if not for the democracy, then for your wallet.

1. Line your bird cage, hamster cage, any small critter cage.

2. Layer several sheets of newspaper on the floor when you’re training your puppy.

3. Wash your windows with newspapers, saving money on paper towels, and avoiding streaks.

4. Use the Sunday comics to wrap gifts. The funnies are my favorite, especially for children’s presents. I’ve also heard of folks matching the section of the newspaper to the interests of the gift recipient. Sports pages for the sports enthusiast; the theater listings for a movie buff; the classifieds (what’s left of them) for the garage sale lover (or unemployed). You get the idea.

5. Making seed pots. I recently read about this on a site dedicated to frugal gardening. Click here to read Mr Brown Thumb’s instructions on his very funny gardening blog.

6. Use sheets of newspaper to wrap breakables for moving.

7. Shred newspapers for packing materials.

8. Give a newspaper to your kids along with an egg of  Silly Putty. Wow them with tales of your childhood spending hours  flattening the Silly Putty on newspaper images and then stretching them into grotesque abstractions, then making them magically disappear.

9. Make your own pinata, using strips of newspaper, flour paste and a balloon.

10. Lay newspapers down in your flower beds and cover with mulch for weed control.

11. Crumple and place inside wet shoes to absorb moisture and eliminate odor.

12. Crumple and place in luggage to eliminate odor.

13. Use as an emergency umbrella.

14. Use as an emergency dust pan.

15. Roll and use as an emergency fly swatter.

16. Fold and use an an emergency fan.

17. Fold and use as an emergency pot holder. I personally would not recommend this unless you’re interested in having the fire department at your door.

18. Make party hats. Click here to read Skip to My Lou’s directions for two types of newspaper head wear.

17. Make paper chains.

18. Make paper dolls.

19. Make dress patterns.

20. Use under cars to keep oil leaks from staining the garage floor.

21. Place under baby’s high chair to protect the floor.

22. Place under children’s art projects to protect your table.

23. Roll into a log shape and use as a fire starter.

24. Use as a mat when polishing shoes.

25. Stuff under doors and in cracks to keep the cold out and the heat in.

26. Use the daily black and white comics as a coloring sheet for your kids. Staple several together and you’ve got a coloring book. Add crayons or makers and you’ve bought yourself enough time to make dinner.

27. Make a scrapbook of articles on a topic of interest to you. Like the death of newspapers. No shortage of material there.

28. Cover plants in case of a late frost.

29. Wrap green tomatoes to ripen.

30. Use as a knee pad when kneeling in the garden or scrubbing floors.

31. Place on the car windshield to prevent icing.

32. Use as a mat for wet or muddy shoes and boots.

33. Stuff in purses to keep their shapes while in storage.

34. Use the plastic sleeve that newspapers are delivered in these days as a pooper scooper. Simply slip your hand all the way in, pick up your dog’s doo, then pull through and knot. I have done this myself and can attest to its usefulness. That is, of course, unless your carrier sends the paper skidding across your driveway, leaving tears in the bag. Ewwwww.

35. Use the brown bag advertisements that are often inserted into the Sunday paper as book covers for your child’s textbooks.

36. Collect the crossword puzzles and other games from several papers, assemble into book form. Use it yourself or give it as a gift, preferably to a frugal-minded friend.

37. Cut headline-sized words out of the paper, mount on index cards and use them to teach your kids how to read. Use discretion here so junior doesn’t learn the word murder before the word mom.

38. For older kids, have them cut words out of the paper — hundreds of them — and then use the words to write an original poem or message –kind of like those boxes of magnetic words you can buy at fancy bookstores to leave messages on your fridge.

39. Use it as a doodle sheet when nervous or bored, coloring in headline letters with a pencil. I once had an uncle who routinely did this to my grandfather’s paper before he had finished reading it. Not a good thing. Do your doodling on yesterday’s paper.

40. Use newspapers to make a homemade kite.

41. Use a section of newspaper to catch potato or carrot peelings in the kitchen. Clean up is a breeze.

42. Line the vegetable drawer of your fridge with newspaper, making clean-up easy and absorbing odors.

43. Use a thick pile of newspapers as an emergency cutting board. Thickness should equal one Sunday paper of days gone by.

44. Shred and add to compost.

45. Use to line shelves.

46. Tape over windows when painting.

47. Line your trash bin with a layer of newspaper to keep odors down. I’m definitely going to try this. My current method of taking the trash out, which involves holding my breath while hurling the bag in as quickly as possible just isn’t working for me. 

48. Cut into small pieces to make confetti for a birthday or New Year’s Eve party.

49. Ball up a sheet tightly and use as an emergency wiffle ball. Now that’s an emergency.

50. Keep a few copies stashed away as relics of our past.




6 responses

23 04 2009
Carolyn in NC

How about making paper boats like Curious George does in one of his books?
And sorry to say that since they’ve changed the ink, you can no longer do the Silly Putty thing like we did when we were kids.

23 04 2009

You are so right, Carolyn! Most papers now use soy-based ink after readers clamored for papers that didn’t leave their hands black. That cleaner soy ink doesn’t work nearly as well with Silly Putty.

24 04 2009

Roll it up and use as a fly swatter!

25 04 2009

I especially loved #13 — an emergency umbrella. One very rainy April day, over 40 years ago, we brought my newborn sister home from the hospital. I remember my father held a newspaper over my mother and baby sister as they got out of the car, and I was absolutely horrified thinking he was going to wrap up the new baby in newspaper. I had already been traumatized earlier that afternoon when my mother was brought from her hospital room in a wheelchair, and I thought they had broken her legs somehow while she was having the baby!

Thanks for a good laugh remembering that day and the newspaper umbrella.

25 04 2009

Thanks for sharing that wonderful memory, Carla………..funny how the simplest of things can trigger such a great moment in our personal histories.

14 05 2009
A good weekend for coupons « Free to be Frugal

[…] papers to boost those ever-shrinking circulation numbers at newspapers across the country. Click here, here and here for past posts on why I think newspapers are still a smart […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: