Intuitively, I’ve always felt guilty for throwing away perfectly good anything. It’s a feeling as though more economy could be garnered from the energy used to create whatever it was. Newspaper is no exception. It makes for absurdly brilliant round-the-house essential, and hey, it’s given away for free.

Newspaper or newsprint is the lightweight paper usually 35 grams per square meter (gsm) in weight meaning and almost 4 times lighter than normal printing paper. This trade-off for weight makes it an excellent blotting paper. On a scientific basis, it’s the holes in the paper (porosity) that makes it good for absorption both liquid and odour.

Newspaper for cleaning has been used forever however it’s been surpassed by our commercialist society – there is a product for everything. I first used newspaper in high school art class where in the event of a spill; instead of wiping it up (and risking making a further mess, and wasting time) newspaper was simply placed on the spill, rendering it immobile and desiccated. The principle of blot-and-contain works well even in those really unfortunate events when an entire bottle of something is smashed. Tried and tested I’ve dropped a 1L bottle of elderflower cordial (used to make the drink-when- you’re-not-having-a-drink Bitters and Elderflower) and to the rescue came Daily Mail’s front page – quite possibly the only good service this rag has. I’ve tried all of Rupert’s finest, they all work in their true destiny in cleaning up domestic mess.

If you’re not one to buy newspapers you can scrounge around for them in cafes, workplaces and family/friends. Most people are more than happy for you to collect them. Personally I occasionally add to my free pile by purchasing the The Saturday Paper, as I think it’s the best written paper in the country. But then again Andrew Bolt would say it’s best for cleaning up his domestic messes.

Interestingly the grubby world of faux recycling has been outed into the ring of national debate. Thanks to the warm-up by Craig Reucassel’s War on Waste and the deft coverage by 4 Corners “Trashed: The dirty truth about your rubbish” it looks like our addiction to throwing it all away is coming to an end. As of today (08/08/2017) the NSW and QLD Premiers are questioning the expose of the 4 Corners doco into the organised waste trade occurring between the two states.

The below table contains how you could possibly use newspapers and in what manner. I’m baffled at the sale of things like windex or other glass cleaning products. Glass shows smudges and fingerprints easily due to the oil loving (or oleophilic) nature of glass however is cleaned equally easily by the light abrasion and porosity of newspaper. Spraying with a dedicated “cleaning solution” is needless marketing, chemical loading and dollars spent.

The multitude of uses for newspaper:

Lay workbench before cooking
Absorbs liquids, splatters
Lay workbench before food prep
Place off cuts, scraps
Scrunch into bowl shape
Pour liquids not suitable drain
Lining of shelf
Bottles of oils dribble and spill
Dampen, scrunch, wipe windows
Porous nature of fibre picks up debris
Layout on spills
Absorbs liquids, immobilises particles (like broken glass)
Shoes and Bags
Scrunched up and filled into leather bags
Keeps the shape of bag or shoe, also absorbs odours
Layout on spills, Hazchem clean-up
Absorbs liquids, immobilises particles, odour suppression
Component in compost bin
Fibre perfect for dry matter in compost
Layout in garden bed (various levels)
Weed suppression, mulching
Hipster chipshop
Because what’s old is new again

If you also use newspapers in weird and wonderful ways leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.