9 Alternative Uses For Toilet Paper Tubes

alternative uses for toilet rolls

We all use toilet paper on a daily basis, and while there are still few more environmentally-friendly alternatives to TP (recycled toilet paper has its advantages), there are ways to make better use of the waste product – toilet paper tubes.

There are a myriad of uses for these inner-tubes, ranging from home crafts, party favours and even saving the planet. Here are a few of the top uses for toilet paper tubes.

Make your home safer

Trailing wires and cords can present a significant safety risk in the home, especially if there are children around. One simple way to secure wires and cords is with toilet paper tubes. Simply wind up cables when they are not in use and slip them inside the toilet paper tube to keep them secured and out of harm’s way! You can also decorate the tube as you see fit to fit in with your surroundings.

Spark the kids’ imagination

Take two inner-tubes from a toilet paper roll and attach them together – what do you get? Binoculars! By using these excess materials for a constructive but fun purpose, you can encourage children to take part in arts and crafts and then also take their creations out for a spin in the great outdoors to explore and search for wildlife. Brightly coloured binoculars are also a great addition to a jungle themed party – who said a safari has to be expensive when you can have one in your own back yard?

Feed the world

toilet roll bird feeder
Image courtesy of cupcakes for clara on Flickr

If you’d like to encourage more wildlife into your garden, you can make homemade bird feeders using nothing more than a cardboard tube, yarn, peanut butter and bird seed. Take the inside tube from a toilet paper roll and thread a length of yarn though the middle and tie together, allowing sufficient space for the feeder to hang from a branch. Then cover the tube in peanut butter and roll it in bird seed before placing it someplace outside. Now all that’s left to do is to sit back and watch the grateful birds gobble up the tasty treat, which also provides a perfect opportunity to use those homemade binoculars if you have kids at home.


Another great addition to a party or just to make your little one feel special is making crowns out of cardboard tubes. By cutting the tubes in half then cutting out sharp triangles around one end will make the perfect crown shape which can then be decorated accordingly. Leave any paint or glue to dry (preferably overnight) and make 2 small holes at the base end of the crown and thread elastic through to fit over the prince or princesses head. And voila – I crown thee king of the castle!

Grow your own

toilet roll seedling planters
Image courtesy of FennelandFern on Flickr

If you’re looking to grow your own plants, using cardboard tubes as a planter rather than plastic pots is not only handy to rid yourself of excess trash at home, but is also more environmentally friendly. By standing the tubes upright on a tray and filling with soil and seedlings, you can nurse your plants then plant in the ground when big enough without removing the tube – this will decompose naturally.

Heart-shaped stamps

By folding in one long side of the cardboard inner-tube from a toilet paper roll towards the centre, the end of the tube takes the shape of a heart. This can then be dipped in paint and used as a stamp, which is much cleaner way of painting than using sponges or potato stamps, and also gives a new use to something that you have lying around at home. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you could also experiment with alternative shapes. For example, making 1cm deep slits equally spaced around the bottom of the tube and splayed out makes a flower.

Bring Christmas to the home

toilet roll nativity scene
Image courtesy of cheerytomato on Flickr

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but can become very expensive. Cutting costs doesn’t necessarily have to mean missing out on fun – by making your own decorations you can enjoy spending time getting creative indoors when the weather outside is frightful. By adding glitter, a touch of paint and cotton balls to a cardboard tube, you can have yourself a Santa Claus or even a nativity scene. Painting a toilet paper tube white, rolling in glitter and cutting horizontally to give thin loops of cardboard can create unique snowflakes to hang around your home.

Ditch the gift wrap

Creativity at Christmas doesn’t have to stop at things to hang on the tree – many people are choosing to budget during the festive break and give homemade gifts. To go whole hog and take thriftiness to the next level, you can also make your own gift wrap too. By decorating a toilet paper tube and folding each end into 2 halves and tucking them in, you have a lovely box that can be used for smaller gifts such as jewellery or hair accessories. This also allows you to add your own festive flair and personal touch to each present.

Think big

cardboard shelter
Image courtesy of Jocey K on Flickr

Toilet paper tubes aren’t just limited to arts and crafts and home recycling either; did you know that they can be used to rebuild lives too? Japanese architect Shigeru Ban specialises in creating sustainable structures to help those in need; he has used cardboard and paper tubes to build temporary buildings by those hit by disaster. His work ranges from providing temporary shelter to Haitians in 2010 to constructing the Christchurch Cardboard Cathedral in New Zealand after the area was shaken by a deadly earthquake in 2011.

Penny Atkinson (1 Posts)

Penny Atkinson writes on a number of subjects including sustainability and eco-friendly business on behalf of Newark Recycled Paperboard Solutions, who offer a number of paper recycling services to businesses and individuals.

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