organizing with toilet paper rolls.

May 18, 2023

This post is sponsored by PlantPaper; tree-free, toxin-free toilet paper. New subscribers can use the code RMTL25! to get 25% off their first order.

Toilet paper is a thing our family uses on a daily basis. Some of us, still learning the ins-and-outs of managing personal hygiene, use more of it than others, but we generally try to be mindful about it being an inherently wasteful product and to use it sparingly and thoughtfully.

We also hoard our toilet paper tubes and reuse those wherever we can. This is in part because otherwise they will overflow the recycling basket and in part because they are just so very handy.

If you haven’t considered them before, allow me to make the case for this very humble tool. Emptied toilet paper tubes are useful for a hundred different craft projects and household uses and, stay with me, the ones from PlantPaper are truly top-notch. The company doesn’t use any adhesives, so the paper just rolls right off when it’s out, leaving a sturdy little blank canvas of a cardboard tube in its wake. Caveat: Such upcycling does have its downsides, as I recently learned when I found Calder, surrounded by a mound of unrolled paper on the bathroom floor because she, “wanted to get the toy inside.” Yes, the toy was the tube. Yes, I did re-roll the paper and ask her to please refrain from treasure hunting of that nature in the future.

In case you need proof of utility, here are a few ways I like to use toilet paper tubes to tame the unruly craft and supply closet in my home office:

Cable Sorter

I fold my cables neatly, slide each one into a labeled tube and stash it someplace I’ll be able to find it again when desperately in need of a camera charger or hard drive cable. (If you’re a person with ample drawer space, lining up a row of these is a thing to try!)

Scrap-fabric Keeper

Loose fabric scraps are the bane of my existence. I wrangle them in lots of different ways, but one solid technique is to roll them all together and slide them into an empty tube for safe-keeping. This way the scraps don’t get folded or creased and I know where to reach for them when the next project beckons.

Wire/ribbon Wrapper

What’s a toilet paper tube if not a spool? I especially like using them for keeping wires contained, but they can work for yarn, ribbons, twill tape, et cetera. Bonus, if you poke a hole with a hole punch or awl and/or cut a slit into the side, you have an easy place to tuck the end of your wire so nothing unravels on you and you know right where to start.

Paper-roll Wrangler

Rose and I used a bunch of kitchen papers in writing our soon-to-be craft book and I love how neat and easy it is to keep the papers from unrolling with a toilet paper tube slit lengthwise down the middle. Wrapping papers, kraft papers, and kitchen papers are all quickly and easily corralled this way, with nary a crease from a rubber band or a tear from tape in sight.

Multi-section Supply Holder

Dowels, chopsticks, pencils, knitting needles, rulers, can all stay organized in my closet in this little multi-sectioned holder made from four toilet paper tubes. I use my very favorite paper gum tape to hold everything together and create some stability. (In my desk drawer, I keep tubes cut down to size for keeping track of smaller items.)

Travel box

If you’re heading somewhere and need to keep track of smaller supplies like camera cards, erasers, pocket knives, etc., use your thumbs to press two sides of a roll in on itself to create a closed end. Fill up the tube with your valuables, and fold the open end in on itself in the same way. (I forgot to grab a photo for this piece, but I’ll share a shot on my Instagram post.)

The list goes on, but I’ll have to save more examples for another day. In the meantime, more on my current favorite toilet paper from PlantPaper (and a discount code) below.

A bit more about PlantPaper:

Toilet paper falls into the category of things I don’t really want to think too much about. It’s a thing, that with any luck, is simply there, existing within an arm’s reach ready to come to the most banal rescue multiple times a day. Of course, like most things manufactured for our consumption, thinking a bit about the what and how of toilet paper is indeed a thing worth doing. Tree-based conventional toilet paper relies on the paper industry’s continued reliance on logging old-growth forest. Recycled toilet paper options can also be fraught, heavily processed and containing traces of chemicals like BPA. If you thought it was easy to be a conscious consumer, well, think again!

PlantPaper is trying something different. They make FSC-certified bamboo paper that’s bleach-, formaldehyde-, and BPA-free, but it’s also 3-ply and gentle on our most sensitive parts. Our family have been paying subscribers to PlantPaper for the past year and monthly we receive a box of 32 rolls, delivered in 100% recycled and compostable packaging, directly to our door. It’s been easy and seamless and they do truly come on very helpful tubes. At the end of the day, my roll of brown toilet paper is not going to be solely responsible for tipping the scales of environmental destruction, but neither do I want to prop up the folks doing the most amount of harm. If I can make even a small dent in the roughly 27,000 trees that get flushed down toilets annually, actively destroying some of our most important carbon sinks, well, I’m gonna do it. I really like PlantPaper and I think some of you might, too.

If you’d like to give PlantPaper a try, now is the time to do it:

With code RMTL25!, new subscribers get 25% off their first order.

Huge thanks to PlantPaper for supporting this work. With any luck, ads like these will keep this site cost-free for readers. The above links are also affiliate links, which means RMTL will receive a commission on new sign-ups. If you’re not in the market for toilet paper, please consider passing the links along to someone who is!

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  • Reply V May 18, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    We use Plant Paper, and I’m so glad/amused someone else is talking about the tubes. We’ve all separately commented on them to each other in our household but with a sheepish air of “am I really talking to my family about toilet paper rolls?”. They’re really that good though! The lack of glue is weirdly delightful, and the tubes themselves are… well constructed (I truly did not ever imagine myself saying that about a tube of toilet paper). They’re a bit stronger than your standard tp tube these days and the outside is quite smooth. Every time we recycle one, I think “surely I could do something with this” so this post is awesome.

    Also, if anyone goes to the plant paper website and has the same WTF reaction I do every time I see it, know that the website imagery and marketing style does not extend to the product itself. It’s great toilet paper, and I love the subscription (why yes, that is 96 rolls of toilet paper neatly stacked in my bathroom closet).

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 18, 2023 at 9:30 pm

      They really are great! (For what it’s worth I think the website’s great, too!)

  • Reply Chelsea May 18, 2023 at 9:09 pm

    Is it weird that I purchased a subscription because you sold me with the plethora of organizational uses for the empty rolls?! Alas. Always looking for new sustainable solutions. Thank you for the recommendation!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 18, 2023 at 9:30 pm

      It is not! Happy crafting!

  • Reply Vania May 19, 2023 at 8:17 am

    Really interesting post!

  • Reply anne May 19, 2023 at 12:23 pm

    I’ve been saving up my rolls because I found some crafty things I wanted to do with them, but I hadn’t considered them for organizational purposes!

  • Reply Audrey May 19, 2023 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing! If you don’t mind sharing, how are the rolls packaged?

    One of my critiques for Who Gives a Crap (my current TP subscription) is that each roll is wrapped in (albeit cute) paper. Feels very wasteful. Thanks!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 19, 2023 at 3:07 pm

      These aren’t individually wrapped! We get a large cardboard box once a month that includes four lightweight boxes of eight rolls each. All packaging is totally plastic-free (including no plastic tape!) and recycled. We’ve used WGAC in the past and they sponsored a post of mine years ago. I think they’re doing lots of things right, but in my experience PlantPaper is considerably more pleasant to use.

  • Reply Mackenzie May 21, 2023 at 6:32 pm

    I keep toilet paper rolls for crafting with my youngest daughter but you’ve given me some new ideas! Thanks Erin 🙂

  • Reply Madeleine May 29, 2023 at 2:09 am

    These are some seriously good ideas!

  • Reply Chelsea October 6, 2023 at 4:37 pm

    How do I get past my germaphobia about them being from the toilet area of my house often handled after toileting “duties” because these are all such great ideas!!

  • Reply Sarah Plumb October 6, 2023 at 6:47 pm

    I use a different kind of bamboo toilet paper called Caboo. My only complaint is the big package comes in plastic. Some of their smaller quantities come in cardboard. I looked at a bunch of subscription services only to find out they don’t ship to Canada. So for the price and Canadian availability, this one works best for us. We are also looking at getting a bidet!! Much bigger behavioural change!! Eek!

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