The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

recycled newspaper gift bags

We get sooo many newspaper flyers in the mail without even subscribing to any newspapers. It’s mind numbing. They go directly from the mailbox to the recycling bin, day after day. Well, not anymore! This is a very simple, crafty little way to give your newspapers new life! I am totally in love with this idea! I spotted it on pinterest and knew that there was going to be plenty of these in my future! The possibilities are endless. I just can’t wait to add personal touches onto these fab little gift bags.

The original post on pinterest is from How About Orange who received a recycled newspaper shopping bag from a retailer. She was inspired to create one of her own. Now I am inspired! Let’s do this.

What you’ll need:

  • newspaper
  • scissors
  • card stock
  • glue stick
  • twine
  • ruler

I started out by following the directions for the bag from the link on Pinterest. She walks you through creating the smaller bag, pictured above on the right. Once I mastered that one, I was ready to try variations.

Today’s project: a wine gift bag for a birthday party.

Wine gift bags are a bit easier since they are square so there is little measuring involved. You can easily customize to the particular bottle if you’d like. Today I’ll be making a bag for riesling which is generally a taller, thinner bottle than most so I am customizing a bit.

Bottle diameter = 3.5″
Total newspaper width needed – 15″ (3.5″ x 4 sides + ~1 inch for seam)

Bottle height = 16″
Total newspaper height needed – 19-20″
(16″ + 1″ for top edge + 2″ for bottom of bag)

Lay out two sheets of newspaper on a table or flat surface. Measure out the size of the newspaper you will need, in this case 16″ x 19″. Cut out. Tip: I found it easiest to glue the two sheets of newspaper together before cutting.

Once your cut piece is laid out, you will start folding, as follows:

1. Make a 1″ fold on one of the side edges. This will be where you glue the seam of the bag.

2. To make four equal width sides, fold the opposite edge of the paper in to the fold that you just made.

3. Fold in half again in the same manner.


4. Fold 1″ to 1.5″ on the side that will be the bag opening AND make a 2″ fold on the opposite edge, which will become the bottom of the bag.

5. Next you’ll need to cut two pieces of card stock: 1″ x the width of the side of the bag, in this case 3.5″. Glue them along the top edge of the bag in the first and third sections. These will help support the top of the bag when opened.

20121207-083447.jpg6. Next you will glue down the entire ‘flap’ on the top side of the bag. This will hide the card stock and give the top edge a finished look.

20121210-193246.jpg7. Now to form the shape of the bag, glue the first fold that you made on the side edge to the interior of the other edge. You can start to see it coming together.

20121210-193440.jpg8. And now to create the bottom of the bag, you simply fold the opposite sides in as if wrapping a gift and then glue the two remaining sides down one by one. I failed to take pictures of this process since both hands are necessary to make it work. I did find it easiest to rest the bag on a table while doing this step. Here is the completed bottom:

20121210-193858.jpg9. To complete the bag, you’ll just need to add some finishing touches. Measure a piece of card stock to glue on the bottom inside of the bag for additional strength. Poke (or punch) two small holes in the reinforced top sides of the bag, insert twine and tie off to make handles.

Tada! A recycled newspaper gift bag! (The bag was just tall enough, despite how it looks in the picture. Next time I’ll add that extra inch.) I added some lime green tissue paper for a splash of color. So cute! I visualize making these with Schy for holiday gifts, maybe with red or green stamped snowflakes on them and ribbon handles! You can even use different appropriate sections of the newspaper for particular people: sports, real estate, etc.
I am totally digging these bags. They’re super creative (super cheap) and can easily be personalized! And it’s a useful way to use some of that newspaper that everyone has laying around! Try it out and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your creative ideas.


consign me up!

Babies are expensive! And as many of us know, things can be pretty tight when you’re trying to raise a child (or children) on one income. I just had a little bit of a reality check when Schy outgrew her first pair of shoes. Yep, the $40 pair of Stride Rite shoes that she has only had for TWO months! So, yeah, if her feet grow a half size every two months from now until who knows when (age 2? 3?) that is potentially $240 per year! And that’s just for one pair of shoes! Nevermind cute little holiday and special occasion shoes that she’ll only wear once or twice. Just another reason for those of you parents with late walkers to count your blessings!

Buying shoes and clothing at a rate like that are not exactly what I would consider to be environmentally friendly. They are worn just a handful of times, if that, and put aside to hopefully someday hand down. At least that’s how it works in my house. We had it good for a while when Schy was younger. She has a cousin just 5 months older than her. You remember… the one whose mommy graciously gave us the world’s most annoying toy? We were fortunate to receive all of her hand-me-downs and Schy wasn’t yet walking so there really was no need for a good pair of shoes. Not to mention we almost had enough clothing from the baby shower to last for the first year of her life. Ahhhhh. Life was good.

We are at the point now that we need to start buying new seasonal clothing and shoes for her. I have taken obsessively to ebay, just searching for a nice pair of gently used [quality] shoes for her so I don’t have to spend $40 on the next pair. I know that there are tons of moms out there in the same position… appalled that their child has outgrown these adorable little shoes that have barely been broken in. What a waste!

Last winter, a good friend of mine had taken to consigning her daughter’s clothing. She was able to bring in the clothes that her daughter had outgrown and essentially trade them for second hand, gently used clothing in the next size up. And they were nice quality, often name brand clothes. Her daughter was excited because she still got to shop for them and they looked like new and they were new to her. I could see myself getting into this, but not at the time. I had a dresser full of clothing that would last for a year. Well, that year has come and gone.

So, I’m now discovering the beauty of consigning. These shops are everywhere, as are parents whose child wore a pair of baby Gap jeans once before they outgrew them. Schy and I went on a shopping trip today to find jeans and pants for the fall. I ended up with 3 pairs of name brand jeans and two pairs of leggings for $21.85. They are adorable and look like new. These shops are generally pretty picky about what they will sell so you can expect to find nice quality items. After all, who wants to buy clothing that looks stained and worn out. I didn’t have any luck in the shoe dapartment, but I did just win a shoe lot on ebay, 5 pairs for $19.14 including shipping! Two of the pairs are new with tags and the other three are in excellent used condition. Score!

I haven’t been the consigner yet so I can’t report to you from that side, but this store was packed with clothing so I imagine that it’s not a bad gig. I have two or three totes of ‘like new’ clothing in the attic that i will have to go through someday. I’m sure someone else would just love some I the ridiculously cute dresses that she wore only once. So this is my green revelation for the day. Consigning rocks! There are so many great used items out there that have so much life left in them. It’s like recycling clothes. Chances are Schy will wear these pants a few times, outgrow them and they will STILL be like new.

Give it a shot. You may be able to pass along some of the clothes that you have stored in the process. If you don’t know where to start simply google consignment shops in your area. The guidelines and policies for buying and selling are generally on the site and if they are not, stop in. Check it out. You’ll be surprised, trust me.

Have consigning tips? I’d love for you to share!


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