Recycled paper products have come a long way from the days when the category consisted largely of subpar household goods such as paper towels.
Nowadays a host of stylish gift items are made from recycled paper. And the source material runs the gamut from newspapers to magazines to cardboard and more.
There are even some retailers that are known for their recycled paper products (as well as items made from other recycled materials).
Ten Thousand Villages, for example, sells paper vases and picture frames, among other items. The nonprofit chain is run by the religious Mennonite order and helps craftspeople around the world find new markets for their products.
Etsy is also a great place to shop for recycled paper product crafts. The online emporium also provides a marketplace for artists and craftspeople from all over the world.
Here’s a list of some of the top recycled paper products:
1. Recycled tote bags
Reusable shopping bags have become all the rage these days; even Wal-Mart stocks them. But tote bags made from recycled paper are truer to the spirit of the item; why manufacture a reusable bag from pristine materials when you can create one from post-consumer paper?
Depending on the style, the bags can be quite fashionable, and can be standalone gifts. Or you can use them as a decorative holder for a larger gift.
Through the recycling process, the paper becomes quite sturdy. And retailers and others that make them have taken great pains to choose attractive designs. One such example is a wine bottle tote bag made from recycled paper that’s sold at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
2. Recycled paper vase
Vases always make good gifts, and ones made from recycled paper are even better.
Many recycled paper vases use a mix of old magazines and newspapers, which makes them more colorful and substantial.
Creators of the recycled paper vases often use traditional basket-making methods. And they’re often dipped in glue. The end result is a sturdy vase. They also often come with some type of liner so the vases can hold water.
One place you can find such vases is Ten Thousands Villages.
3. Gift tags
Many recycled paper products are just that: paper items. But some of them still can make for interesting gift ideas. For example, recycled gift tags.
Many recycled gift tags are made out of innovative materials. For example, one artist used colorful cardboard tissue boxes as the base material for the recycled gift tags she sells on Etsy. Indeed the artist said she buys decorative Kleenex boxes and feels bad about throwing them away without reusing them.
Another popular choice for materials is old maps. You can find other examples on Etsy's site.
4. Paper handbags
One might think there is little that can be done with candy wrappers but that’s not the case! Artisans are using recycled candy wrappers to form intricate, woven handbags.
One such group is Ecoist, which partners directly with candy manufacturers and other snack companies, including Mars and Frito Lay. The company has prevented millions of candy wrappers from going to landfills.
5. Picture frames
Everyone needs picture frames; just look at how many snapshots you find when you open the drawers and look under beds.
Old newspapers and magazines make for good picture frames because while they provide illustration and color, they don’t overwhelm the main event, which is your photo.
Like the vase mentioned above, recycled paper picture frames are tightly woven, like a basket, and usually treated with a solution for better handling and endurance. Some of the more artistic frames available employ a decoupage method to “laminate” wood with old newspapers that lift a plain frame into something with a nice design motif.
6. Holiday decorations
Some of the recycled paper holiday decorations out there are among the most unique items on the list. And we’re not only talking about Christmas tree ornaments.
For example, a women’s collective in the Philippines makes recycled newspaper Nativity sets. The coiled and glued newspaper is used to form the robes of the figures of Joseph, Mary, Jesus and the Three Wise Men. (Wood and fiber hair are also used in the set).
7. Newspaper placemat
It’s not uncommon to find old newspapers piling up so recycling them into something useful is a great solution. Enter the recycled newspaper placemat.
Some recycled newspaper placemats use old plastic tablecloths (often from on outdoor picnic tables) to provide a smooth, hygienic front for the spot where your plate goes. They are lightweight but also sturdy.
If you want to learn how to make a recycled newspaper place mat, go here: make newspaper place mats (via eHow.com)
Know about other recycled paper products? Let us know in the comments below.