Five ingenious uses for empty toilet paper rolls

IMG_7001If you’re anything like me, you spent a good portion your childhood awestruck at the potential for fun that an empty toilet paper roll can offer.

From taping a couple together to make a nifty pair of ‘binoculars’ to fantasising about the lofty loo roll spires of a home crafted castle, there seemed to be an almost endless list of things that I could do with those unassuming tubes. Don’t even get me started on the even more magnificent empty kitchen roll… double the length means double the fun, am I right?

With so much resourceful joy to be had, it still feels like a sin to chuck away empty toilet rolls. And while building Tracey Island from cardboard cylinders isn’t my top priority as a busy adult, it has recently come to my attention that you can still get a lot of use out of these little beauties. Here are five examples.

1. Make an advent calendar

DIY-Advent-CalendarThe John Lewis advert is on TV, so it’s officially nearly Christmas (damn, that penguin’s cute). Prepare for December by making your nearest and dearest an advent calendar – toilet roll tubes happen to be the perfect size and shape for hiding festive treats like chocolates, sweets and small gifts. Here’s a neat tutorial courtesy of creative blog Northstory.

2. Grow a plant

how_to_make_seed_starter_pots_using_toilet_paper_rolls_p1smfPlanting a seed and watching it grow is a timeless and satisfying thing. You can be both economical and ecological by using old toilet rolls as mini planters. Once your seed is ready to be replanted outdoors, you can conveniently bury it along with the biodegradable roll, safe in the knowledge that it will decompose without harming the plant or the local environment. has all the instructions you need to make a loo roll seed starter.

3. Develop your own photos

Digital photography is great and all, but sometimes you need to take it back to the old school. For a truly analogue insight into how photography works, make yourself a pinhole camera, also known as a camera obscura. Empty toilet rolls make ideal developing chambers. You don’t need much else, but this pleasingly retro blog has the full details.

4. Have a cracking Christmas

christmas_crackers_09Shop bought crackers are overpriced and underwhelming. It’s way more fun to make your own from empty toilet rolls. Fill them with personalised party hats to really blow the Christmas socks off your friends and family. Just follow this 10-step guide by the clever people at

5. Sell them!

You read that right. You can actually sell empty toilet rolls to make extra pocket money. Crafty people who need cardboard tubes but don’t want to channel their inner Andrex puppy on shop-bought paper will regularly purchase them from eBay. The going rate seems to be around five pounds per twenty rolls – not bad for bathroom rubbish!

If you have any more ideas for upcycling household junk, let us know in the comments below or drop us a tweet @Creative_Hacks.



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