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What Is a Junk Journal?

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If you want to get started with journaling but can’t see yourself sitting down to write for long sessions at a time, then you may want to give junk journaling a try!

What is a junk journal? These are often journals that are made from recycled materials and other loose items. Some people love to make them by hand, but you can buy junk journals as well. They are often a mix of recycled papers, fabric, cardboard, poster board, and other things like pressed flowers and paper with unique designs.

workplace background creating journal junk

People love junk journals because they are unique and are often an expression of the person journaling’s individual personality. They are a metaphor for life, something that isn’t always neat, but tells a deeper story once you open the pages.

Building a junk journal can be a ton of fun, and you can insert pages and other mementos that commemorate important experiences or relationships in your life.

Let’s learn a bit about junk journaling, how to make one, and why they are becoming so popular!

The Purpose of a Junk Journal

When most people think of journaling, they envision writing down one’s thoughts in a lined notebook that sort of looks like a planner. That’s certainly how most people journal, but it’s not the only way.

Not everyone is so organized, and some people don’t have the time to write for 30 minutes or an hour every time they want to journal.

Instead, they pluck a flower during a walk in the park with someone special or save a concert ticket from an experience they loved. They shove the item into the pages of their journal with a few sentences and can relive the emotions of the day or the memory simply by looking at the object.

Journaling like this can be a lot of fun. You will often find junk journals with necklaces inside them or a hair clipping from a child’s first haircut. Pictures can fill junk journals just as much as pages with words written on them can.

Ultimately, your junk journal is whatever you make it. There are no rules. The only thing that junk journals usually have in common is that they aren’t your stereotypical journaling experience!

open statioary journal with clip on side on wooden table

When Did Junk Journaling Begin?

Have you ever heard of scrapbooking? While it’s hard to pin a specific start date on junk journaling, a lot of people think it has its roots in scrapbooking.

In older generations, people would create curated books of life’s memories. These were sort of like photo albums full of pictures, report cards, plane ticket stubs, and other meaningful items. Flipping through the pages, families would reminisce on times gone by and relive meaningful memories.

When the internet and social media came around, it sort of took the shine out of scrapbooking. People still kept things, but sticking photos in photo albums became less necessary. Now, things live forever in the cloud on accounts or a personal drive. You don’t need to print them as much and tape them in a scrapbook.

There are, however, still precious items that people want to keep, and junk journaling is filling that gap nicely. Now, people keep their special items in journals and can write a few words to describe how things felt and why something meant so much.

woman making her junk journal using recycled colorful papers

Different Types of Junk Journals

Again, there are no specific rules around what constitutes a junk journal. Most of the time, junk journals are an eclectic mix of sheet music, cloth from old clothing, recycled paper, and other items you put together.

You can make one from scratch, buy a premade junk journal, or buy a traditional journal and turn it into your junk journal by gluing in pages or sticking a new cover on top. It’s all up to you. After all, that’s part of the fun of making a junk journal. It’s one of a kind and yours forever.

Are Junk Journals Still Popular?

Absolutely! Junk journals are more popular than ever. People now think of them as sort of a physical social media profile. It contains cherished items that you want to remember forever.

Not all of them are for sharing, but they are a fantastic way to record amazing memories with friends and family.

In fact, junk journals are becoming more popular than ever as the next generation of what would have been scrapbookers comes online. Instead of creating ornate scrapbooks full of pictures, school sports ribbons, and other memories, they’re taking a hybrid approach.

Now, people are balancing what they put online with what goes in their junk journal to make sure they keep track of all of the precious moments in their lives that they want to remember.

These days, junk journals are more about keeping the physical things that we want to hold onto. They are not as labor-intensive as scrapbooks, but they still are a fun activity for crafty people who want to make something unique.

woman making junk journal using recycled fabric paper for her gold color journal

Junk Journals Can Get You into a Flow State Faster

Part of journaling is clearing up your head so you can think clearly and approach challenges more effectively. A big part of journaling is goal setting and reflection. Sometimes it can take people hours to get into a flow state where they feel like they have a handle on their stream of consciousness.

People love junk journals because sometimes seeing something like a picture, a flower, a card, or a note from a friend can get them into a flow state faster where they connect the dots and think more clearly.

The variety of the materials in a junk journal can spark new ideas every time it is opened, and often leads to interesting thoughts and feelings.


If you’re thinking about starting a junk journal, you should give it a try!

There are a ton of tutorials online that show you how to make one, and you can really take it as far as you want it to go.

Have fun and enjoy a new way to journal!