Magazines are a popular source of news, fashion advice, recipes, travel inspiration and so much more. Their catchy headlines and short, pointed articles tempt us in grocery store lines and amuse us while we are waiting in the doctor’s office. Sometimes we buy them or subscribe to them. Sometimes they simply show up, unannounced and unwanted, in the mail.
It was hard to find a statistic on how many magazines are printed in the United States every year. However, to give you a ballpark, a report from the Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2012 report
found that the top 25 magazines alone had a circulation of over 114 million in 2011. So it is safe to say the number of magazines going into American homes – and possibly into landfills and dumpsters – is pretty high.
Magazines are fairly easy to recycle once you are finished with them. Most curbside programs accept them for recycling. Many recycling centers will take them also. Collections of magazines may be valuable to collectors, depending on their age and condition. Magazines can also be great for craft projects of all sorts.
What are magazines made of?
According to the website Conservatree
, magazines are typically printed on coated paper. Coated paper is mostly wood fiber, like most paper, but also has a layer of clay coating applied over the top. The clay fills in the space between the wood fibers and creates paper that is smooth to the touch and does a really nice job of displaying color photographs.
Coated paper comes in high gloss, low gloss and matte. Matte-finished paper, as the name implies, does not have a glossy finish or a slick feel. However, it still does a great job of displaying photographs and text.
There is no right or wrong paper to use for magazines, of course. Different publishers are willing to spend different amounts on paper and have different goals for how they want their magazines to look.
Print magazine sales are declining, stated a 2013 article in the New York Times
. However, like with books, magazines are finding some salvation in digital sales. As more people use tablets and other e-readers to consume media, more people are interested in downloading magazines or reading them online. This is a great practice because it allows you to cut down on the amount of paper you consume.
However, if you are still a fan of print magazines (or were and are trying to purge your home of unwanted copies), you have several good options for recycling or reusing them when you are finished with them.
How to recycle magazines
Many curbside recycling programs will accept magazines. Examples include Jacksonville, Albuquerque, Ann Arbor and Salt Lake City. Any community that accepts magazine should also accept catalogs and other things printed on coated paper.
If your curbside program cannot take magazines for some reason, see if your community has another place that accepts them. Tuscaloosa, AL, has recycling drop-off containers all over town to give residents an easy way to recycle magazines and other goods. Magazines are one of a handful of items accepted at tiny Levelland, TX, recycling center.
One way you should not recycle magazines is by putting them in the compost bin. Magazine inks can contain heavy metal, and some magazine pages are coated in plastic or other materials that will not break down in your bin.
How to reuse magazines as-is
Even if you do not want all your old copies of Martha Stewart Living, National Geographic or Expert Gamer, it is entirely possible someone else does. There is a pretty good trade in old magazines, especially those that provide practical information like DIY projects or remodeling advice.
You can see both individual magazines and collections on sites like Ebay or Craigslist. You can also give magazines away to many thrift stores.
Homeless shelters, medical offices and retirement communities are other places that may be interested in your unwanted magazines. They provide a great, light source of reading for people.
How to reuse magazines in craft projects
Schools and day care centers may also be interested in magazines, but not for their educational value (in most cases). They are more likely to want magazines for children to use in collages and other craft projects.
This is a fun way for adults to pass the time too, or you can look into more sophisticated projects. Old magazines make really great paper beads. The pages provide a nice hodgepodge of color that add interest to the beads without much work. The post on the website Instructables
provides easy-to-follow directions on how to make your own paper beads from old magazine.
Buzzfeed has 35 suggestions
for using old magazines and newspapers. They include a clock with dramatic sunburst rays (made from rolled-up magazines) sticking out behind it; colorful woven placemats; and, my favorite, a decorative recycling bin for future unwanted magazines.