recycling bin origami paper


In our household, we aim to reduce, reuse, and recycle. The recycling bin is one of our favorite art suppliers, as it is free, disposable, and forces imagination.

With the aid of one of my favorite earthly possessions, my paper cutter, (true story: snagged it at a garage sale over 15 years ago for $5) I quickly turn a 800 page catalog into a pile of easy to fold origami paper. The kids were so excited to have such a stockpile, it inspired them to use the explosion book fold we learned at art camp to create the longest snake ever!

Having a paper cutter makes this a lot easier, but you could also use scissors. I heard you can run a hair dryer along the spine of the catalog, or book, or loosen the glue, which makes the tearing out cleaner.

(Paper cutters are worth the investment, or keep an eye out for one while thrifting!)

the kids made a folding factory

This project is simple and a great place to start in pursuing a more creative life. Since the paper already has type on it, it is only useful for scrappy things like origami folding activities. Any mark-making is an improvement!

We learn skills by repetition, so having 800 papers to go through is perfect for mastering paper folding. After mastering a fold, then we can break out the good origami paper. I say this as one on a tight budget with kids who sail through a lot of supplies!

So go have fun with your love ones:

  1. get inspired: check out the documentary, Between the Fold  (it was on netflix, not long ago) or the children’s book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by  Eleanor Coerr (my daughter is working on 1,000 paper cicadas, it is a way easier fold)
  2. research: find an origami project (keep it simple!) on youtube, in a library book, or from another human
  3. supplies: that catalog sitting in your recycling bin,  or that telephone book still in your basement,  papercutter or scissors to cut one side of paper, so that finished size is squared (8 x8, 8.5×8.5, etc.)
  4. helpful tip:  press down folds by running finger nail over it a couple of times,  breathe,  and expect to make mistakes, and try to enjoy the process

This project is about the process. The kids had fun, worked together, and then went on to the next thing. Where is this snake now?


Back in the recycling bin. Purpose was served…

…and we still have a stack of origami paper for the next time.



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