Recycle Old Newspapers To Make Your Own Bags

One of the little things that always makes me happy is when I can use what I already have to make what I need. That kind of thinking has always fit with my frugal nature, but it’s also become a bonus for me to know I’m not creating more waste in the world. Today’s project fits both those categories as I can be frugal and use up newspaper I have around, and create a handy little eco-friendly bag too with just a few folds.

One of the things I’ve noticed now that I’m using my homemade reusable grocery bags more and more, is that I don’t have as big of supply on hand of those plastic bags from the store. Now that’s a good thing when trying to reduce plastic, BUT those little bags came in handy for lots of things, and I particularly liked them for lining small trash cans in my home.

Recycle old newspapers to make handy folded bags

So one option I’m exploring is how to make an eco-friendly paper bag using old newspapers instead. Yes, I still get the newspaper one day a week – I know that lots of folks don’t even do that anymore! If you want to try this idea and don’t have newspaper, you might be able to score some old newspapers from paper recycling bins that don’t mind you doing a bit of “dumpster diving” .

I’ve got a couple methods to share today. One is a simple folding method and the other is a way to adapt a previous idea I shared for making gift bags from wrapping paper. (You can basically do the same thing with newspaper instead!)

How To Make Newspaper Bags: Step-by-Step

Now one thing I will say right off the bat here, is that the folding method resulted in a bag that was quite small. When I used one sheet of newspaper opened up (which was about 21″ x 21.5″) it resulted in a bag that was about 7.5″ x 9.5″.

SO – my solution was to make a larger piece by taping together some additional pieces of newspaper. Not quite as convenient, but it actually made a bag the size I wanted. I taped additional pieces of newspapers around the edges to make a piece 30″ x 27″. This gave me a bag that was 10″ x 12″. This was a much better size for lining my small wastebaskets (which was the main purpose of this whole endeavor for me).

Here’s a quick video I made of the steps for this folding method. I’ve got photos below showing the steps too.

Here are all the steps written out with photos:

Step 1: Lay a piece of newspaper out flat and opened up. Then fold down about 3″ on the top.

How to make a bag from newspaper

Step 2: Flip the piece over.

Step 3: Now fold one side in about a third.

How to make a bag from newspaper

Step 4: Then fold the other side in about a third.

How to make a bag from newspaper

Step 5: Now you will reposition that last fold so that it is tucked under the folded cuff at the top.

How to make a bag from newspaper

Step 6: Flip the piece over again.

Step 7: Now fold the piece in half toward the top.

How to make a bag from newspaper

Step 8: Finally, reposition this last fold so that it is tucked under the folded cuff at the top.

How to make a bag from newspaper

And now your folded bag is complete!

How to make a bag from folded newspaper

As mentioned earlier, I wanted a slightly larger bag than what was created by just one sheet of newspaper. I taped a few more pieces around the edges to make a piece 30″x27″ and this gave me a nice size finished bag that was about 10″x12″ (using the folding method just described) that I’m using to line a small wastebasket in my bathroom.

Eco friendly newspaper trash bag

Bonus Idea #2 for a Newspaper Bag

And finally, here’s one more idea for making a bag from recycled newspaper. This is the same method I use when I want to make a gift bag from wrapping paper. You need to do a little folding and taping but it goes together pretty fast and easy!

The general rule of thumb I use for this method is to start with a piece of paper twice as wide as it is high. This works just fine with newspaper too. All you need to do is not open the paper up. Just take a single piece and leave it folded like you do for reading. This also gives you a double layer of paper for a sturdier bag. Your finished bag will be more square than with the method described above and will be about a 9″x7″ size when finished.

How to make a newspaper bag

You can get all the steps for this idea #2 over on my How To Make Your Own Gift Bags post, which includes a video of all the folding steps too.

Whichever method you choose, remember that to make a larger bag, you will need to start with a larger piece which may mean you have to improvise and tape a few other pieces of newspaper together. Even so, it’s still a handy way to make your own paper bags if you’re trying to reduce plastic in your life, and a frugal way to repurpose something you may already have laying around.

Reduce plastic waste and make your own paper bags

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  1. Please help me with this one. I remember my mother making a liner for her 11.5″ X 8″, 15″ tall kithchen trash container out of newspaper. It was so perfect and I don’t remember any tape. Mom has passed and with her…the technique. She was a depression era child so I am pretty sure she learned from her parents.

    I would really like to learn a simple, streight forward process even if I have to use tape. I am trying to significantly lower my plastic use and pass the technique on to others.

    1. She might have been using this same technique, but I do know that the pages of newspapers have gotten smaller as the years have gone by. It’s possible she was able to make a larger sized bag using this method, because she had larger sized newspaper pages to work with.

  2. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I knew how to do this 50 years ago, but because of not doing it, I forgot…I was taught to do this by the red cross in a training class involving home health. Used for cases that didn’t have disposable bags.

    1. Yes, I believe folding newspaper bags like this is indeed something that our grandparents knew how to do and used much more often than we do today. I’m glad you were able to revive this skill again!

  3. Beverly-Thanks for the newspaper bag instruction-I also used tape(masking tape) and I folded a single sheet of newspaper, folded it lengthwise once and then again and put it in the bottom just to reinforce it.

    1. That’s a good idea to add the extra reinforcing on the bottom – thanks for sharing that idea!

  4. Dear Beverly. Thanks for the super little video. I’ve been trying to work out a way to make bags out of newspaper.

  5. Great idea! I’ve been looking for an eco-friendly bathroom wastebasket bag/ liner idea. I’ll reuse my friend’s newspapers.