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What to Do With Old Magazines

what to do with old magazines

Table of Contents

Old magazines can be creatively repurposed or recycled. Options include crafting home decor, fashion accessories, and educational tools and donating them to organizations for reuse. 

For more innovative ideas on what to do with old magazines, read our full article.

Recycling Old Magazines

To recycle magazines effectively, the process begins at home. You’ll need to remove any non-paper elements like plastic wraps or inserts, as these can hinder the recycling process.

It’s also a good idea to stack your magazines together, either with a rubber band or in a paper bag, which makes them easier to handle and process for recyclers. Most importantly, ensure that the magazines are clean and dry, as damp or soiled materials are not ideal for recycling​​​​.

old magazines for recycling

Preparing Magazines for Recycling

When preparing magazines for recycling, look out for glossy papers. While many glossy magazines are recyclable, those coated with polyethylene (PE) are not, as they can damage the soil if composted. 

A simple way to check is by tearing the paper; natural gloss paper tears easily and can be recycled, whereas PE-coated paper is tougher to rip. Remember to separate any staples or bindings, but don’t worry too much about these, as most recycling centers can remove them during processing​​​​.

Local Recycling Guidelines and Resources

Understanding your local recycling guidelines is crucial. Not all facilities may accept magazines, so it’s best to check with your local center. In the USA, resources like the Green Directory from GreenCitizen are helpful in locating recycling centers for specific items like magazines. 

Additionally, consider alternative options like donating your magazines to libraries, schools, or hospitals or reusing them in creative ways like crafts or gift wrapping to extend their usefulness and reduce waste​​​​.

Creative Upcycling Ideas

These ideas showcase just how versatile old magazines can be in creating unique and stylish home decor items.

DIY Home Decor Projects

Transforming old magazines into home decor is a creative and sustainable way to repurpose what might otherwise be discarded. Here’s a list of imaginative DIY projects, each offering a unique way to give old magazines new life:

  • Magazine Wallpaper or Drywall: For a bold statement, use full magazine pages or strips to create textured wallpaper or even a half-wall to divide a room​​.
  • Decoupage Lampshade: Cover a lampshade with vintage-themed magazine pages for a chic and interesting lighting accessory​​.
  • Paper Flowers: Make elegant paper flowers from magazine pages, ideal for weddings or as home decor​​.
  • No-Sew Quilt Block with Rolled Paper: Create a quilt block-like decor piece by rolling magazine pages, perfect for those who love the look of quilts but don’t quilt themselves​​.
  • DIY Magazine Envelopes: Customize your mail by creating envelopes from magazine pages. This is a creative and straightforward way to recycle and personalize your correspondence​​​​

Crafting with Magazines

Here’s a comprehensive list of creative crafting ideas using old magazines:

  • Magazine Page Bead Covered Vase: Enhance the look of a plain vase by covering it with beads made from magazine pages. This craft adds color and texture to your room​​.
  • Recycled Magazine Business Card Holders: Craft a stylish business card holder from old magazines. This project is not only practical but also eco-friendly​​.
  • DIY Magazine Page Suitcase: Revamp a dull suitcase by sticking colorful magazine pages onto the cover. It’s a clever way to give an old suitcase a new lease of life​​.
  • Quilled Magazine Page Cross: Make a trendy 2-D cross using quilled magazine pages. This craft is ideal for those who enjoy detailed paper crafting​​.
  • Rolled Magazine Frame: Create a visually stunning picture frame using rolled magazine pages. This craft is perfect for adding a burst of color to your walls​​.

Seasonal Crafts

Old magazines offer endless possibilities for creating unique seasonal crafts. Here’s a list of ideas to inspire your next project:

  • Magazine Mosaic Flag: Perfect for patriotic holidays, this craft involves cutting red, white, and blue areas from magazines and arranging them on a piece of cardboard to create a flag mosaic. It’s a simple and engaging activity for both adults and kids, ideal for celebrating national holidays​​.
  • Upcycled Magazine Christmas Trees: Transform your old magazines into festive Christmas trees. Roll or fold the pages into a tree shape, decorate with paint or glitter, and you have an eco-friendly holiday decoration​​.
  • Magazine Page Wreath: Using colorful magazine pages, create a wreath that reflects the colors of the season. This could be a bright and colorful piece for spring or summer, or something more muted for autumn​​.
  • Magazine Valentine Garland: Combine different shades of red from magazine pages to make a beautiful Valentine-themed garland. This craft is perfect for seasonal decoration​​.
  • Magazine Page Origami Wall Art: Fold magazine pages into geometric shapes and glue them onto a baseboard to create captivating wall art. You can tailor the colors and shapes to fit any season, from the blooming patterns of spring to the geometric motifs of winter​​.

Functional Uses for Old Magazines

Each of these projects offers a way to repurpose old magazines into useful and stylish items, demonstrating that creativity and sustainability can go hand in hand.

Making Furniture 

Old magazines aren’t just for reading; they can be transformed into functional furniture items with a bit of creativity. Here’s a list of ideas:

  • Repurposed Magazine Stack Stool: By stacking up magazines to a desired height and securing them with belts around a wooden base, you can create a unique and functional stool. This idea is not only resourceful but also adds a quirky touch to your home decor​​.
  • DIY Magazine Storage Basket: Construct a handy storage basket from old magazines. This project involves folding and weaving magazine pages to create a durable and attractive basket, perfect for organizing various household items. It’s an easy and versatile project that can be adapted to different sizes depending on your needs​​​​.
  • Magazine Page Placemats: Create unique placemats by folding magazine pages into geometric patterns. This project is simple, and you can protect your creations with clear contact paper, making them durable and easy to clean​​.
  • Magazine Page Soap Cozy: Craft a decorative soap cozy by cutting and gluing magazine strips. This adds a vibrant and colorful cover to any soap dispenser, making it an interesting decorative item for bathrooms or kitchens​​.

Fashion and Accessory Items

Old magazines can be creatively repurposed into fashionable and unique accessory items. Here’s a comprehensive list of ideas and their brief processes:

  • Bobby Pin Embellishment: Give your hair accessories a new look by wrapping bobby pins with colorful magazine pages. This simple yet stylish project can add a personalized touch to your fashion accessories​​​​.
  • Repurposed Magazine Bracelet: Make bracelets from magazine pages. This project involves creating rosettes or beads from the pages and attaching them to a bracelet base​​​​.
  • Recycled Magazine Wallet: Fashion a wallet from magazine pages for a unique and eco-friendly accessory​​.

Household Items

Transforming old magazines into household items is not only eco-friendly but also adds a unique flair to your home. Here’s a list of household items you can create:

  • Ceramic Tiles: Customize plain ceramic tiles by attaching magazine cutouts using Mod Podge. This adds a unique decorative element to any room​​.
  • Butterfly Chain: Cut magazine pages into almond shapes and fold them to create a butterfly chain. It’s an easy and beautiful decor for parties or as a hanging accessory in rooms​​.
  • Sunburst Mirror: Roll magazine pages to craft a sunburst mirror, perfect as a conversation piece in your living space or as a gift​​.
  • Magazine Page Goody Bags: Ideal for parties, these goody bags are made by sewing together magazine pages, creating a fun and personalized way to present treats​​.
  • Accordion-Style Clock: Fold magazine pages accordion-style and attach them to a clock kit. This unique clock is a functional piece of art​​.
  • Coiled Magazine Page Coasters: Coil magazine pages to create colorful coasters. They’re functional and add a custom touch to your table setting​​​​.

Innovative Reuse in Everyday Life

Utilizing old magazines for these purposes not only promotes recycling but also adds a unique and personal touch to your projects and activities. It’s a smart way to engage in eco-friendly practices while exploring your creativity.

Wrapping Paper and Gift Packaging

Old magazines can be cleverly repurposed for wrapping small gifts or creating unique gift packaging. Here’s how:

  • Gift Wrap Paper: Join two or more magazine pages with invisible tape to wrap small gifts. This method is perfect when you’re out of conventional wrapping paper​​.
  • Gift Bags: Tape two magazine pages edge to edge, then wrap them around a cereal box and secure with tape or glue. After removing the box, add cardboard rectangles at the top for strength, punch holes, and attach ribbons or yarn for handles​​.
  • Gift Tags: Cut out small pictures or graphics from magazines and glue them onto cardboard. Once dry, punch a hole in the corner and attach a ribbon or string​​.

Scrapbooking and Collage Art

Magazines offer a wealth of vibrant images for scrapbooking and collage art:

  • Scrapbook Pages: Use magazine cutouts to enhance scrapbook themes, adding depth and color to your memories.
  • Collage Artwork: Glue magazine clippings onto canvas or paper to create unique collages, perfect for wall art or personalized gifts.

Educational Tools and Activities for Kids

Turn old magazines into educational tools and fun activities:

  • Alphabet and Number Learning: Cut out letters and numbers from magazine pages for kids to arrange and learn.
  • Color Identification: Use colorful magazine pages to teach children about different colors and shades.
  • Storytelling with Pictures: Encourage kids to create their own stories by arranging magazine images in a sequence.
storytelling using magazines

Donating Old Magazines

When it comes to repurposing old magazines, donating them is a great way to extend their lives and benefit others. Here’s a breakdown of where and how to donate your old magazines effectively:

Where to Donate

  • Military Troops: Magazines are often appreciated by US military personnel, especially those stationed overseas with limited internet access. Many types of magazines are suitable for donation, but it’s important to avoid sending inappropriate materials​​.
  • Savers Superstores: These community thrift stores accept magazine donations. You can locate a nearby store using their website and drop off your magazines there​​.
  • Freecycle: An online platform where you can offer magazines to your local group for free. If someone is interested, they can arrange a pickup with you​​.
  • MagLiteracy: This organization aims to promote literacy and accepts magazine donations after you complete an online form and provide a list of magazines to be donated​​.
  • US Modernist: Donates older architecture and design magazines for preservation and public accessibility​​.
  • Local Reuse Centers: Look for centers near you, such as the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland, California, that accept magazine donations​​.

Best Practices for Donating

  • Check with the Recipient: Before donating, it’s advisable to contact the recipient organization to ensure they need the magazines. Some locations, like libraries, may already have plenty of reading materials​​.
  • Appropriate Content: Match the magazine content with the venue. For example, car magazines could be donated to automotive businesses, while family-friendly magazines are suitable for daycare centers​​.
  • Prepare Magazines for Donation: Remove or mark through address labels for privacy. Ensure the magazines are in good condition, without torn pages or moisture damage​​​​.

Impact of Donating on Community and Environment

Donating magazines contributes positively to the community by providing reading materials to those who may not have easy access. It also supports environmental sustainability by extending the life of the magazines and preventing them from ending up in landfills​​​​.

These donation channels not only help clear out clutter from your home but also serve a greater purpose in literacy promotion, environmental conservation, and community support.

The Importance of Repurposing Magazines

Repurposing old magazines is a smart and eco-friendly practice that goes beyond mere recycling. Each magazine reused in a creative way contributes to reducing our carbon footprint and helps in waste minimization. The importance of repurposing lies in its ability to extend the life of these materials, ultimately leading to less environmental impact.

Environmental Impact of Magazine Waste

An estimated 350 million magazines are printed annually in the U.S., but shockingly, only about 20% of these are recycled. The environmental impact is significant, considering the deforestation for paper, energy consumption in production, and greenhouse gas emissions during distribution. When discarded, they contribute to landfill waste and can release harmful chemicals during decomposition, affecting soil and water sources.

magazines on display

Making the Most of Old Magazines

Old magazines don’t have to be junked. They can be recycled, upcycled into home decor, or used in creative projects. This not only helps the environment by reducing waste but also adds a personal touch to your space. 

For larger cleanups or if you need assistance, EZ CleanUp is ready to help. We’re just a call away in Philadelphia for all your junk removal needs.

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