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what is junk journaling

What is Junk Journaling? A Junk Journal for Beginners

Are you looking to start your own junk journal but don't know where to turn? What is junk journaling? And how can it be of use to you?

All this and more today as we explore what junk journaling is and how to go about it yourself!

what is junk journaling

What is a Junk Journal?

Just as with an art journal - or any other journal to be exact - there is no one definition that fits all forms of junk journals. Rather, the journal fits the user and so should be adapted to fit each different user's individual needs, wants, aims, and desires.

However, even though your own junk journal might appear different from others you have seen, there will be one unifying characteristic that tends to differentiate, say, art journals from junk journals. This is that, no matter what the journal itself is made from, the materials from which it is decorated are made from a mix of found and recycled materials.

Despite the fact that all journals of this type (including leather journals) are distinguished and unified by the junk journal supplies with which they are decorated, the intention and purpose of each can vary considerably from person to person.

For some people to use a junk journal, though, it is less about the use of a whole bunch of recycled materials than it is about the journal being a place for all the so-called junk of life to go, much as there will be a drawer for actual things for someone with OCD.

Refillable Classic Journal (Lined)
Refillable Classic Journal (Lined)
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Ways You Might Use a Junk Journal

To help you get a sense of how to use your own junk journal pages, here are some ideas:

  • You can always use your art journal as an everyday journal if you are that way inclined.
  • You can also use it as a planner, sampling bits of calendars from other diaries and planners until it becomes a complete package.
  • Using recycled materials from specific times and places is a great way to start your own memory book. Tactile and physical reminders of a time and place can be an apposite way to contact your future self, too, allowing you to communicate with objects as well as words.
  • Art journaling itself can be a great way not only to explore mixed media art but also to gift something of yourself to someone else. Gifting someone themed junk journals is to come close to bearing your soul through paper scraps and junk mail.
  • In a similar way, you can also use a themed book like this purely for your own purposes, keeping all the paper bags, greeting cards, and other recycled and found materials in one place and under one thematic umbrella.

How to Get Started

So, now you know what it is and how you might use it, let's look at some steps on how to get started:

  • Starting out with a specific theme can be helpful as it limits the amount of detritus you have to sift through in order to find the right thing.
  • There are plenty of book-binding methods to choose from, but it will make your life easier to choose one from the get-go, lest you have to change everything around later down the line.
  • Next up, you will want to collect all the supplies, tools, and materials. If you have a very specific theme in mind, then this will likely be something that you do over a longer period of time.
  • Depending on the method by which you will bind the book, assemble and prepare the foundation of the book in a fun and creative way, preparing a cover, and cutting down the base papers.
  • Now, you are all ready to fill the journal up with whatever you like in fitting with your theme. This is undoubtedly the best part about making junk journals - actually getting down to the nitty gritty with all that junk.

Some Techniques to Explore

There's certainly nothing wrong with gluing a whole bunch of pictures and other ephemera into a book and calling it quits there. However, there are plenty of other methods by which you can decorate your junk journal and turn it into something well beyond its means. The idea is that, considering it's your own journal, there really are no rules, so you should honor whatever crazy and far-fetched notions you are entertaining in your imagination.

However, there are a number of common techniques that you might try for yourself, such as:

  • Adding pockets to your pages can create a sort of hidden and liminal element that really makes your pages stand out from the rest.
  • Using paper of various sizes and shapes bids goodbye to perfection and allows you to improvise to the whims of whatever comes to you.
  • Using stamps (whether postal stamps or ink stamps) is another great way to put your own stamp on the concept of the junk journal. Who knows, you could even make your own stamp for maximum personalization.
  • Above all, make it as personal as possible. This is your journal and you want the world to know it.

Some Options for Book Binding

If this part of the process is of no interest to you, then go on ahead and finish up here, but for those who are interested, we here present some methods by which you can bind your own junk journal together.

Sewn bookbinding involves literally sewing the paper into the cover of the journal. There are many ways you can go about this, all dependent on your tastes and how you want your cover to look in the first place.

The binder rings method is a great way to get started for those who are otherwise new to bookbinding, involving punching holes into the paper and connecting them together with binder rings.

There are more personal methods by which you can bring the pages together with very little commitment after the fact, meaning you can change the configuration and reposition all the pages with little pain - no sewing or hole-punching required!

You can also just use a book that already exists as your junk journal, promising that you will ensure that all the materials with which you decorate your junk journal are second-hand even if the journal itself was made elsewhere.

Classic Journal (Blank)
Classic Journal (Blank)
from $21.95
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Final Words

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to get started making your own junk journals!

FAQs What is Junk Journaling?


Though you may very well have your own reasons for calling it a junk journal, the idea behind a junk journal is the one thing that unifies all other junk journals, no matter the differing intentions of each user and their eventual outcomes. This idea revolves around using only discarded materials, recycling them for another purpose, and ensuring that they aren't wasted. Hence the title 'junk' journaling, for what are these materials in the abstract if not junk waiting to be repurposed and given a new home?


A junk journal's central idea - the one thing that unifies all junk journals no matter how different they end up being thanks to the separate intentions of each individual user - is that it should be made almost or entirely from repurposed materials. Hence the title 'junk' journal and hence why the junky nature of the journal has also come to describe the contents as well, for this has quickly become the place where people put all of their junk.


There are no rules for junk journaling beyond the one that unifies all junk journals despite the many different places where all the different users of junk journals seem to take their own individual creations. Junk journals should be constructed almost or entirely from repurposed materials, even to the point of constructing the notebook itself from separate pieces of paper and binding them together yourself with whatever means you have to hand. Though this comes to represent the veritable trash heap of your mind, it has a very potent symbolic message for those looking to do the planet dirty.

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