North, south, east, west. Here’s how to recycle maps to give them a new lease on life.

Since I was a young whipper-snapper I’ve always been obsessed with maps. The street directory shoved in the back pocket of the driver’s seat was my eyes to the world – mostly because I couldn’t see out the window. Whether it was on a 12 hour trip to Melbourne, the 10 minute ride to school or even just something to keep me busy in the corner, I always had a map in my hands. So it’s little wonder I have a pile of ripped maps tossed across my desk… and the floor as well. I never wanted to throw them out – and I still don’t. Every crease and hole is a story – not necessarily the big stories, but the little ones that don’t make the highlight reel. 

So here are a couple of ways to hold onto the little stories, by recycling your old maps:

Frame Them!

Is there anything better than having a clean desk with a framed picture of your… maps? Preserve your favourite memories (sorry kids) at your desk or on the wall around the house. Maps act as great décor as well as a fantastic conversation starter. And thanks to Kmart this method won’t blow the budget either. At just $6 a frame, every map can be added to your collection.

If you can’t find a frame the right size, stick them up on the wall with a bit of blu-tak.

How To Recycle Old Maps, Damon Tually, map, frame

A frame adds a bit of class

Journal Cover

Dear diary, 

Today I am going to share my deep and darkest secrets ON THE OUTSIDE. Although most stories are meant to be hidden inside a book, the stories from maps can cover the outside instead. All you need is a bit of glue. Scissors are optional. 


Map Lover


Mouse Pad

Isn’t it great to be in the bush, on a mountain, at sunset, with your mates? By using your old maps to create a mouse pad, you’ll be able to bring that mountain a little closer while you’re slaving away in the office. That’s one way to ease the sting of a desk job.

Wrapping Paper

There’s nothing better than deciding between the wrapping paper with the shiny silver and white zig zags or the matte gold with stunning combinations of stars… Okay, you got me. It’s not my cup of tea. I like to wrap with maps instead. Using old maps as wrapping paper will not only save time and money, but will make your loved ones feel special, knowing the sentimental value and stories behind the paper.


How To Recycle Old Maps, Damon Tually, map, wall, window

Photo by Tim Ashelford

Fire Starter

It’s the last night of camping with your girlfriend. The weekend’s been adventurous and it’s time to cuddle up next to the fire. It sprinkled an hour ago and the kindling is too wet to spark the fire. You’ve decided to humble yourself and use some sort of fire starter. But the only paper on hand is your girlfriend’s book, or the map. The pressure mounts. Book or map? Which is more precious? Back and forth you weigh up the options as sweat drips from your brow, narrowly missing the small pile of kindling.

Although you love your map, you realise you love your girlfriend more and decide to spare the book. Bye-bye map. Your work here is done. 

None of those take your fancy? Give these a whack:

  • Lamp shade
  • Coffee table spread
  • Papier-mâché


Moral of the story – maps don’t deserve to die in the recycling bin. The stories they hold, the adventures they’ve been on are too valuable. Whether it’s hanging up on your wall or even cremated in order to save your relationship, maps will always be there for you. So let’s be there for them. 


Feature photo by Jamie Humby