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  • Writer's pictureHelen Colebrook

Journaling with Recycled Items

Journaling with Recycled Items
Journaling with Recycled Items

I hope you're doing well, in these strange and unsettled times that we are all facing. I've been keeping busy, doing lots of journaling and finding new, creative ways, to make the most of the things that I already have at home.

In this blog post, I will be sharing how I used household and recycled items to create these journal pages. I really hope you enjoy it.

1. Go Searching

Junk Journal
Find some Household Items

The first step is to start looking around your home for things that might be suitable to use in your journals.

I gathered items like greaseproof paper, magazines, leaflets, cardboard rolls, paper doilies, wrapping paper, newspapers, napkins, envelopes and bubble wrap.

Try searching for things that have images you could use, or that would be great for making patterns, marks or collages on your journal pages. Definitely have a look through any papers you have put in the recycling.

2. Instant Coffee

Coffee Dyed Papers
Instant Coffee

If you like vintage-style journal pages, then coffee can be a really great tool to use.

I dissolved 2 teaspoons of instant coffee in some hot water and grabbed an old paintbrush.

You could use tea or brown watercolour paint for this project too. Play around with how much you use, to create lighter and darker effects.

3. Coffee Dyed Papers

Coffee Dyed Papers
Coffee Dyed Newspaper

Next, I tore up some small pieces from an old newspaper. You could use letters that you no longer need, to create a similar effect.

Very gently paint your coffee, or other diluted liquid, straight onto your pieces of paper. The paper will probably be quite fragile, so it's worth making sure that you don't apply too much water.

You should then leave these papers to dry, or you could use a hairdryer or heat tool, to speed up the process.

4. Coffee Cup Rings

Junk Journal
Coffee Cup Rings

Whilst the coffee was still on my desk, I dunked an empty cardboard toilet roll into the coffee and used it to make coffee cup-like rings on my pages.

This is a really fun way to create shapes and imitate the look of a coffee cup ring.

I also used the paint brush to add some additional splatters to my pages.

5. Magazine Images

Junk Journal
Magazine Cut-Outs

Magazines, leaflets and packaging are a great place to look for images that you can use in your journal.

This magazine arrived through our letterbox a few weeks ago, from a local garden centre. With so many beautiful photos in it, I knew this was one to keep for future projects.

You can either carefully cut out the images you wish to use, or tear around them for a more textured visual effect.

6. Create a Collage

Journal Collage
Create a Collage

Once you have your chosen an image or images, you can create a lovely collage as a focal image on your journal pages.

I used my magazine image and a paper doily, along with the dried coffee-dyed papers.

I decided to add mine to the bottom right of my journal spread, but they would also look great if you put them in the middle.

I used Pritt-Stick to glue my papers down.

7. Using Paper Napkins

Junk Journal Paper Napkins
Using Paper Napkins

Paper Napkins are another great resource to keep for using in your journal.

They tend to be so decorative and pretty, so I'm always on the look out for ones that I want to keep.

You will need to carefully peel the layers apart, so that you are just using the very top layer, with the printed image on.

I used three butterfly images and glued them to the top of each coffee cup ring.

8. Bubble Wrap Print

Journal Mark Making
Bubble Wrap Mark Making

For the purple splotches you can see on my pages, I used some bubble wrap.

I used a felt-tip pen to carefully add ink to the bumpy side of the bubble wrap and then used this to print the marks onto my journal pages.

If you don't have bubble wrap, you could look for anything that has a textured surface that might create some interesting marks on your paper.

9. Wrapping Paper

Junk Journal
Wrapping Paper Images

Wrapping paper is another great place to look for images.

I tend to keep any interesting papers that I receive, or left-over paper that isn't quite big enough to wrap a present.

I really liked these brown images and thought they fitted in perfectly with a vintage-style theme.

10. Add your Journal Writing

Journal Writing
Journal Writing

Once all of your decorating is complete, it's time to add your journal writing.

I used a black Muji gel pen, as it writes really well over a range of different paints and dyes.

In my journal, I've written all about how I feel and the things I have witnessed, during this strange time that we are experiencing.

I find it really beneficial to get those thoughts out of my head and down onto paper.

For my journal itself, I used a tomoe river paper standard size Travelers Notebook insert, inside a vintage lite cover, both from Start Bay Notebooks.

If you would like to see more about how these pages came together, then you can watch my YouTube video down below.

I really hope you've enjoyed this blog post and that it's given you some ideas that you can use in your own journal. There are so many ways to get creative, even if new supplies are a little more difficult to get hold of at the moment.

This blog post contains some affiliate links, meaning that if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

3,386 views2 comments


Helen Colebrook
Helen Colebrook
Apr 15, 2020

Thank you so much for your lovely comment Karen. I'm really happy you enjoyed the blog post. I love the idea of using onion skins and will definitely look into that. Thank you for sharing x


Apr 14, 2020

I really liked this article! It gave me some ideas of how I could actually use the pictures from the magazines and brochures that I haven't quite been able to bring myself to throw away.

If I might suggest, for anyone who does not like the smell of coffee (or for those who would rather drink it), strong black tea would also be good for colouring your paper in sepia or brown tones. A while ago I found a site that explains how to dye naturally using onion skins ( ), and those might also produce an interesting effect.

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