How to Make Your Own Eco-friendly Paper

A wood tray of paper pulp held over a basin of water.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Old wooden picture frames
Window screens
Recycled paper
Natural colors and herbs—beetroot, Spirulina, or carrots (optional)
1 large tub or bath tub
Fresh herbs (optional)

Have you ever wondered what happens to paper once it's used and recycled? Very often, it is taken from your bin to a specialized recycling plant to be sorted and cleaned of all dyes, glues, and writing, and is mixed with water to create a paste. This paste is then added as an ingredient to make a variety of other products including cardboard, newspaper, and envelopes. But did you know this is something that can be done at home? If you are looking for a fun eco-friendly project for your green home, you can re-use your old newspaper clippings and make your own naturally colored, custom paper. Follow our DIY tutorial below.

Step 1 - Make a Screen Mold

Before creating the paper itself, one should first create the mold in which the DIY paper “paste” will be poured. To do this, begin by stapling window screen to the back of a wooden picture frame. Set this piece aside for a future step.

Step 2 - Make Paper Pulp

Tear selected paper samplings of news and scrap paper into 1-inch pieces and place them into a blender, filling until it is half-full. Carefully pour warm water into the pitcher until full, and mix on low for 1 minute (or until blended).

A pile of ripped paper squares in different colors and patterns.

Should you wish to create colored paper, add natural colorants such as powdered beetroot, Spirulina, or even finely ground carrots to the mixture. Continue to blend until satisfied with the color.

Step 3 - Pour the Pulp onto the Screen

After placing the screened mold in your tub, pour the contents of the blender onto the screen, allowing the excess water to drain out of the bottom. Gently rock the mold side to side, distributing the mixture evenly.

A sheet of white homemade paper with green and purple traces of color and flowers pressed into it.

Should you wish to add fresh herbs to accentuate the eco-friendly nature of this project, simply sprinkle them into the paste during or just after pouring. The added texture will create a lovely, unique look to the paper.

Step 4 - Allow the Paper to Dry

A row of wood frames with homemade paper in them drying against a fence.

Once the excess water has been drained, simply lay the mold upside down, allowing the newly formed paper to fall onto a towel. Pat dry as necessary and allow to sit for 24 hours before use.

Ideas for Use

So what can be done with homemade paper? Because it's thicker than the common store-bought variety, and you have the freedom to create it in any color, size, and shape, there is a multitude of things that can be made from the craft.

Piñata—Piñatas are usually made with papier-mâché and tissue paper, but seeing as homemade paper is moldable to your own specifications, it makes a wonderful medium to create a candy-filled party game. Simply blow up a balloon, and when still wet, tear and press pieces of the paper around the balloon, leaving a discrete hole toward the top. Let the paper dry, pop the balloon, and fill it with your favorite treats.

Paper Dishes—Do you use a lot of disposable dishes? This homemade paper is great for creating bowls and plates by molding the drying paper into the desired shape and letting it dry for 24 hours.

Scrapbook Background—When I started DIYing, I was shocked at the price of paper and limited variety in my local craft store aisles. As this homemade paper is fully customizable, it makes perfect scrapbook paper because it can be made in any color and size needed to complement your design.