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What are Junk Journals?

what are junk journals

So, what are junk journals? As the name suggests, a junk journal is a hand-made journaling book, often roughly so, using all kinds of scrap paper or other materials as the writing surface. Although junk journals look quite rough, they do have a certain personal charm to them.

Just looking at the junk journal without reading the contents, you can almost tell the personality of the owner. Even though journaling allows you to express your thoughts however you want, a junk journal takes it a step further. You can even choose the materials used for the said journal, making it more personal and authentic.

Junk Journal and Its Different Types

Based on its name, it is safe to say that a junk journal is a notebook or journal that you make using whatever scrap materials you have. As such, no two junk journals are the same even when made by the same person.

Technically, a junk journal is typically a handmade notebook consisting of “signatures”, or folders of pages stitched together and bound to a cover. Signatures are bundles of pages that are usually representative of parts of your life.

For instance, you can create signature themes that represent various phases in your life, like your childhood, your school years, and whatever you like. You then stick various bits that serve as important memorabilia for you. It can be anything.

For you to gain a much better understanding of junk journals, here are the most common types and uses.

types of junk journals

Vintage Book

This is one of the most commonly made and used types of junk journals. You can make this using vintage book covers. You can even boost the vintage effect of this journal by using pages dyed in coffee.

One nice thing about the vintage covers used in this type of journal is that they are often trendy. They add a classic and vintage feel to your journals, making them a lot more comfortable to work for.


There is also what we call the stitched junk journal. As the name suggests, this junk journal is sewn. You can then see the signatures being bound together within the cover of the book through the stitching.


Thematic junk journals refer to those that use just a single team. In other words, the entirety of a single journal will focus only on a single theme. You may select your preferred theme, including childhood, holidays, like Christmas, roses, family, or gothic.

Regular Journal

If you are trying to find out what are junk journals used for, then making them serve as regular journals is one good answer. You can use the junk journal to write about what happened in your day, or your thoughts and the things that you realized.

You can also use it as a gratitude journal, where you will list all the things that happened during the day that you are thankful for.

Daily Planner

You can use calendar pages in your junk journal so you can use it as a personalized daily planner. You can also choose to write the grid yourself so that you give it a more personalized feel.
Use it as a notebook for your to-do lists for the day, too. Just make sure that the journal is small enough to fit inside your EDC bag, making it possible for you to bring it anywhere.

Art Journal

what are junk journals used for

Some people express themselves through art, specifically through sketching. If you want to make a junk art journal, the pages should be blank and without lines. You can also attach a makeshift loop for holding your pen or pencil.

Ideally, the art journal should fit your EDC bag. However, it can also be as big as you want. You should be able to pull it out and create sketches whenever inspiration hits.


This is the actual original intention of the junk journal. You can stick whatever ephemera you can get from your daily interactions there. It could be the ticket stub from the show or movie you watched.

You may also use the receipt from lunch or dinner, and anything else that you found while you are out and about. It is up to you if you want to leave some space for notes on the pages.

Brief History of Junk Journals

history of junk journals

The trend of junk journaling seems to have started going mainstream in the mid-2000s when people started to feel that journaling has become too elitist. Journals back then were getting a bit too fancy and expensive. It seemed like using expensive journals somehow defeated the purpose of journaling.

This is the reason why some avid journaling hobbyists started using recycled paper, scrap pieces of cardboard, product wrappers, and other items that they can get a hold of. Things got really ramped up during the 2008 financial crisis when the housing bubble burst.

When money was tight, people still wanted to continue journaling. Some even used it as a way to cope with financial problems, so they made do with whatever is at hand. Now, what used to be a way to save money, junk journaling turned into an art form where people turned seemingly useless scraps into something pretty and meaningful.


What are junk journals? These are simply journals that you make yourself and use whatever materials you have at home; any paper that you have at hand can work. Journals are supposed to be personal, and you can make them even more personal by making them yourself. You can then use the journals in whatever way you want.

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