What Can I Use as Eco-Friendly Wallpaper?

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Green Living

Fabric-coated and vinyl wallpapers can release volatile organic compounds that are harmful. Learn about hidden home dangers in our picture gallery.

Napoleon Bonaparte, exiled to St. Helena, may have died from arsenic poisoning, which was present in the pigments of his wallpaper. Flour-based wallpaper paste reacted with the arsenic and caused it to evaporate, leading to his ultimate demise. While today’s wallpaper does not contain such hazardous chemicals, it is important to note the effect of wallpaper on indoor air quality. Some wallpapers contain toxic additives, and paint manufacturers are now producing low-VOC paints to tackle the problem.

Vinyl is a common type of wallpaper, and fabric-coated wallpaper is treated with a vinyl or acrylic coating. Vinyl is a petroleum-derived plastic that is harmful to the environment and releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which react with particles in the air to create ozone. Solvent-based inks also contribute to VOC emissions, but the levels in wallpapered rooms are generally lower than painted ones. The source of the pulp that makes the paper is also significant, as virgin timber may be stripped, degrading the quality of the surrounding landscape. The Forest Stewardship Council has introduced a seal of approval for wallpapers that are made from recycled wood pulp or wood from sustainably managed forests.

However, recycled paper is not the only eco-friendly option for wallpaper. There are plenty of household items that can be recycled into unique and stylish wallpaper.


Recycled paper can be converted into wallpaper.

Although Americans use vast amounts of paper, we also recycle a lot of it, with around 50% of paper, 72% of corrugated cardboard, and 88% of newspapers being recycled. Some of this recycled wood pulp is used to create eco-friendly wallpaper options, such as V2 tiles by Mio. These 3-D tiles are made entirely from recycled paper and can be arranged in various ways to add texture and shape to your walls.

On the previous page, it was mentioned that manufacturers of eco-friendly products are becoming more creative in designing wallpaper. They are using unexpected recycled materials such as Japanese phone books, disposable diapers, and post-consumer recycled glass to make unique and environmentally friendly wallpaper. Pallas Textiles, for example, uses Japanese phone books for 50 to 70 percent of the pulp in their Dial Tones natural wallpaper, while Knowaste recycles diapers to extract wood pulp and plastics which can be used to produce wallpaper. Trend USA has a collection of glass wallpaper made from post-consumer recycled glass that looks like custom mosaics. Homemade wallpaper paste can also be used to hang eco-wallpaper guilt-free. Many websites offer simple recipes for the paste. Green wallpapers are patterned with nontoxic, water-based ink. Lots of additional information and related articles can be found in the sources listed at the end of the text.


1. What materials can be recycled to use as wallpaper?

There are many materials that can be recycled to use as wallpaper, such as old newspapers, magazines, cardboard, and even fabric scraps. The key is to make sure that the materials are clean, dry, and free from any adhesive residue.

2. How do I prepare the materials for recycling?

You should first remove any staples, tape, or other non-recyclable materials from your paper or cardboard scraps. Then, cut your materials to the desired size and shape for your wallpaper project.

3. Can I use recycled wallpaper in a bathroom or kitchen?

It depends on the type of materials you use and how you seal them. If you use materials that are moisture-resistant and apply a sealant, then recycled wallpaper can be used in a bathroom or kitchen.

4. How do I apply recycled wallpaper to my walls?

You can apply recycled wallpaper to your walls using wallpaper paste or a self-adhesive wallpaper backing. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific type of wallpaper you are using.

5. Can I paint over recycled wallpaper?

Yes, you can paint over recycled wallpaper. However, it’s important to make sure that the wallpaper is properly sealed and the paint is compatible with the materials used in the wallpaper.

6. How do I remove recycled wallpaper from my walls?

You can remove recycled wallpaper from your walls using a wallpaper steamer or a solution of warm water and vinegar. Again, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific type of wallpaper you are removing.

7. Can I reuse recycled wallpaper?

If your recycled wallpaper is still in good condition, you can certainly reuse it for another project. Simply remove any adhesive residue and store it in a dry, cool place until you’re ready to use it again.

8. Is recycled wallpaper more environmentally friendly than traditional wallpaper?

Yes, recycled wallpaper is more environmentally friendly than traditional wallpaper because it reduces waste and conserves resources. Additionally, many recycled wallpaper options are made from non-toxic materials, making them safer for your home and the environment.

9. Can I recycle my old wallpaper scraps?

It depends on the type of wallpaper you have. If your wallpaper is made from paper or cardboard, then it can be recycled in your curbside recycling bin. However, if your wallpaper is made from vinyl or other non-recyclable materials, then it should be disposed of in your regular trash.

10. Are there any downsides to using recycled wallpaper?

One potential downside to using recycled wallpaper is that it may not be as durable or long-lasting as traditional wallpaper. Additionally, some recycled wallpaper options may be more difficult to apply or remove than traditional wallpaper.

11. Where can I find recycled wallpaper options?

You can find recycled wallpaper options at many home improvement stores or online retailers. Additionally, you can make your own recycled wallpaper using materials you already have at home.

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