When American brothers Clarence and E. Irvin Scott invented the toilet paper roll in 1890, they created more than a convenient way to dispense an indispensable product; they ignited our collective obsession with the humble cardboard toilet paper tube [source: McRobbie]. For children, a handful of toilet paper tubes is fodder for hours of fun in the form binoculars, rockets, submarines — and that's without the addition of paper towel tubes.
- Stuff a bunch of plastic grocery bags inside a paper towel tube to make a handy dispenser.
- Organize hair bands and hair clips in the bathroom by wrapping them around a toilet paper tube.
- Keep extension cords from getting tangled by folding them neatly inside a paper towel tube.
- Keep holiday lights from tangling in storage by wrapping them around the outside of a paper towel roll and taping down the end.
- Safely store important documents like diplomas and birth certificates by rolling them up inside paper towel rolls.
For lots more tips for giving new life to old stuff, check out the related links on the next page.