Life Hacks: Those leftover TP Cardboard Cores

I’ve always been an avid recycler, which is probably why I’m such a fan of repurposing. I just hate to throw out an item that obviously still has life left in it, even if it’s something easy to recycle. Surely there’s a way to reuse it?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Repurposing kind of fell out of favor for a while, it seemed. But it’s back now, with a brand new name. Life Hack. I love it. What a cool term for taking an item, no longer needed for it’s original purpose, and making it useful again. I love to find ways to hack old stuff and make something new. It’s really just another way to reduce our waste, even with recyclable items.


Example: the cardboard core that is leftover when we use up the toilet paper or paper towel. Think of the multitudes of rolls we use in a year’s time. Of course I have to add most of them to my recycle bin. But it still bothers me that there are so many of those rolls being tossed, all still perfectly good. There has to be something useful I can do with them – right?

There is. Here are a couple of ways that you can repurpose (hack) those rolls.

TP core with cord
They make a great way to contain and control all those loose extension cords. You know the ones, they hang around in a box waiting for you to needPaper towel core with cord one, so that you can spend time trying to untangle them and search for the right length for you needs.

The toilet paper core roll is a perfect choice for the short cords – it keeps them nice and neat. And if you have any really long cords that won’t fit the small core, use a paper towel core for those. Now they can all lie in a box or on a shelf, never getting tangled and easy to sort through for the length you want.



Cardboard cuff on roll of paperAnd what about all those partially used rolls of birthday and holiday wrapping paper? If you tape the loose end, then the next time you need some of the paper, you usually end up tearing the paper trying to get the tape off. Solution: simply cut one of the cardboard cores lengthwise, which creates a handy little paper cuff that keeps the loose end of the paper confined and well behaved.


You can even use TP cores to make a handy fire starter for you fireplace, fire pit or campfire. But that’s a subject for another day.

Will you use these hacks? How do you repurpose common household items?






  1. Mike Sirota

    I used those tubes as a musical instrument. Of course, that was over six decades ago. 🙂

    • indy

      Ha! Yes – I had forgotten about that! The paper towel tubes were great swords too! Of course, my sons used them as light sabers. Thanks for the blast from the past!

  2. Marilynne

    My husband uses the tubes to protect seedlings from the bugs that want to nibble on the tender leaves.

    • indy

      What a great idea, Marilynne! Thanks for sharing this.

    • Chad Lauffer

      Brilliant Indy!! Great ideas. I saved about 5 or 6 of them last month, thinking, “There has got to be a good use for these. Maybe the kids could use them for a craft or something.” I must have been waiting for you to write this article. Thank you.

      • indy

        Chad – glad you like the idea. Like you, I just hate to throw them out They are still perfectly good! When my boys were little we used to make milk cartons into barns and oatmeal containers into silos with construction paper and markers. But they are all grown up now! Ha!

  3. Lois Joy Hofmann, Author

    Ha! I used to use those long gift paper rolls for all the socks I gave my brothers for Christmas! Haven’t found a use for them since. But now, I see that I could use rolls to tidy up all those spare cords in my office. Yay!

    • indy

      Tee Hee – great idea for the socks, Lois!


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