What should I do with my old magazines?
January 29, 2006 9:56 PM   Subscribe

I am a magazine addict.

I subscribe to several magazines & buy many more. My apartment has become quite cluttered as a result of my habit. I've got a lot stored in boxes & the most recent are shelved. What can I do with all of these? I don't really want to throw them away, but they're taking up so much space. Some are several years old.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
As are others.
posted by extrabox at 10:05 PM on January 29, 2006

Maybe donate a few to community/free clinics that might not have reading material in the waiting room. or if they're educational, to needy area schools. Or, get crafty. giant collages. paper mache -- I wrapped a bunch in brown paper and created a box-like shape. There's also freecycle.org or other "pick up my free junk" sites.
posted by ejaned8 at 10:28 PM on January 29, 2006

I have a journalist friend who does her periodical reading by taking the current stack of magazines and papers and first tearing out all the articles she plans to read.

Its a surprisingly small stack compared to the parts that get thrown out.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:42 PM on January 29, 2006

Wanna talk about addiction? This is addiction.

Here's what I do:
I used to keep all of my magazines. Every issue. Completely intact. At one point, I had over a few hundred "New Yorker"s and "Entertainment Weekly"s alone. The piles were staggering, literally.

Here's how I cut back: Tore out pictures I liked, articles I liked, got a file cabinet and stored the articles. I tear comics out of the "New Yorker" and I mail them to friends who might like them. Recipes go into recipe files.

I gave all my "Playboy" magazines to my former employees who are all horny college kids. Nothing like free porn from the boss.

I do keep a few magazines intact: I can't bear to tear up "Esquire" (and I think they hold up well over time.) "Oxford American" is stored in boxes for safe keeping.

I'm still nowhere as lean as my wife would like, but most of the stacks are gone.

I know you don't want to get rid of any of your magazines, but consider why you are keeping them. If they are useful for reference, there's no shame in keeping them on bookshelves right next to your books. If they're trashy periodicals, read em, chuck em. There will be dozens more next month.
posted by ColdChef at 11:34 PM on January 29, 2006

I had the same problem as you did, except not just with magazines, but with everything. My room (and my life) were cluttered with lots of excess junk that I never looked at. I solved the problem when I moved to a new city, but the method will work for anybody.

Find a friend, preferably a close one, and ask them to help you clean up a bit. With this friend over at your house, start going through your magazines and throwing them away (or recycling, or whatever). Every time you come across a magazine that you want to keep, ask your friend if you should keep it or throw it away. This is where your friend's responsibility lies: every single time you ask that question, they should tell you to throw it away. And you have to listen to them. Make sure your friend is strong-willed enough to overrule you if you try to keep something anyway.

It sounds kind of stupid, but I found that having somebody else control the decision (even in that limited sense) made it easier to get rid of everything.
posted by number9dream at 11:44 PM on January 29, 2006


I've got a whole heap of old Mac magazines I'm going to be eBaying soon (once I work out an alternative to PayPal for International payments to Australia).
posted by krisjohn at 12:03 AM on January 30, 2006

What StickyCarpet said. That's what I do with newspapers and magazines like Time and Newsweek.

I did keep every issue of a Belgian magazine which contains lots of investigative journalism and really nice interviews which I couldn't bring myself to throw out, even though it was packing up lots of space.

In the end I used a scanner with a paper feeder and scanned them all to nice quality PDF files. I made an index and tagged most of the articles (still some to go).

It took some time, but now I've got the best of both worlds: I still have all the articles, and I've got my shelves back.
posted by lodev at 12:14 AM on January 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

I used to have a communial laundry room in my condo. I would bring them down there (ripping the address label off) and share them with everyone else...
posted by k8t at 4:45 AM on January 30, 2006

Your local library system may subscribe to a full-text periodical database that you can access from home. Having access to LexisNexis and Infotrac through my job makes me much less likely to even buy a magazine or newspaper, since I can read it online.
posted by Biblio at 6:04 AM on January 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

You say "I don't want to throw them away" because you want to keep them? Or because it's a waste to toss that much stuff all at once?

If you want to keep them, I can't really help you, but if you want to get rid of them, I say donate/give away/drop them off at places.

My laundromat has an ever-changing rotation of magazines, leave a few on the counter at yours (or the one near you if you don't use a laundromat).

Maybe bring a bunch each Monday to work and leave them in the breakroom with a sign saying "take whatever ones you want!" Toss whatever's still there at the end of the week.

I don't know if I'd give them to doctor's offices or anything like that (all the ones I've been to seem to have oodles of mags), but is there a college near you? Maybe leave some (or find a student to leave some) in the common/lounge area of the dorms, or the cafeteria.

Give them to friends. My sister gives magazines to me (she works in the industry), and then I share them with my roommate and friends, even if they're older. People don't care if the mag is from last month, last spring, or last year, it's something to read.

Leave them at a gym - people are always looking for something to distract them from the fact that they've walked 4 miles on the treadmill but haven't even left the room. All the gyms I've ever been to actually had a magazine/trashy book rack just for this purpose.

If you have full years (like every 2001 issue of Entertainment Weekly or People or National Geographic or whatever), I second the eBay idea - at the very least, it's worth a shot, and if it doesn't work out, see above.

Finally, with the rest, tear out the articles and pictures that you want to keep (maybe throwing them in folders labeled with the magazine's name and/or month), bind up the remnants with twine, and toss them to a recycling plant. If your town doesn't take them with the regular weekly recycling, you should be able to find a place that does this even if not in your town.

Also if you're feeling crafty, another addiction that I've had for about a year - make marble magnets and give them to friends. I don't know what it is, but once I started making these, I couldn't stop. They actually make craft hole punches that you can get for a few bucks at any craft store that come in different sizes (up to a couple inches wide, I think) that make it really easy to cut out images.
posted by AlisonM at 6:44 AM on January 30, 2006

Donation suggestions:

*nursing homes
*preschools or kindergartens (for craft projects)
*middle or junior high school libraries (especially sports, science or nature-related - even old ones - but call and ask first)
*homeless shelters

Most public libraries won't take magazines anymore.

After you get rid of them, consider the cost of storing old paper in your house that you never refer to again. Divide your mortgage or rent by the square footage of all those magazines. (Compare that amount to the cost of renting an off-site storage facilitiy.) My guess is you will be unpleasantly surprised at how much you are paying to store magazines in your home.

Then cancel all the subscriptions and go read magazines at your library. If the library doesn't get the magazines you're interested in, offer to fund a subscription. That way the library stores them for you, and others may enjoy them too.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:45 AM on January 30, 2006

I've known more than one person who has this kind of addiction. You could easily wind up with a house literally full of piles of magazines and newspapers, with narrow passages between the front door, the bed, and the bathroom. (I am not exaggerating.) If you don't want to end up like that (and it also makes a social life hard, since you can't invite anyone over), you have to find a way to break yourself of it—both the acquisition and the "can't throw it out" syndrome. Good luck!
posted by languagehat at 6:57 AM on January 30, 2006

When in doubt, throw it out.

Do you want to end up like the Collyer brothers?
(I blame my mother for that last remark. I have to make it approximately 5,000 more times before the imbalance between receipt and transmission is corrected.)

posted by caddis at 7:41 AM on January 30, 2006

Freecycle. Somebody will want them, and you really don't need them. Hoarding is a serious obsessive trait, and good to avoid; I say this from experience as I tend towards it, and have to fight it. I do keep New Yorkers to use for collaging. News magazines go in the recycle bin pretty promptly; magazines that retain their interest go to the doctor's office, hospital, etc. The stored New Yorkers are in boxes in the attic; they fit nicely into paper boxes from work. When I have enough of them, I may wallpaper the library in New Yorker text, with a cartoon border.
posted by theora55 at 8:21 AM on January 30, 2006

I leave magazines in random places, like coffee shops, doctors' offices, laundry rooms and laundromats. Anywhere I would want to read a magazine.

I used to have several hundred books. WHen I had a baby, I realized this wasn't going to work in an apartment. I started leaving books for others to find. My home has more space and I like to think that I've left something for another person to find...sort of like being a Secret Santa. :)
posted by acoutu at 8:43 AM on January 30, 2006

If you're trying to make yourself get rid of them, this is what I do: when the new issue comes I make myself get rid of the previous one. Even if I haven't read it. Even if there's that really good article about (whatever) in it. It was difficult at first, but now I enjoy the purging.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:24 AM on January 30, 2006

Levenger single-sheet cutters are your friend in this situation, per advice noted above. Now if I could just follow this advice myself.
posted by theredpen at 10:02 AM on January 30, 2006

I would like to second (third, and fourth) the idea of donating the ones you want to get rid of, even if you have torn out pages or you think they are useless.

Check with your local hospitals (especially children's hospitals) and see if they know of any local art therapists. Some larger children's hospitals also have schools in them for the kids. They generally appreciate donations of magazines to use for collages or whatever. I've donated file boxes full of magazines before, which they've gratefully accepted. Good luck!
posted by sarahnade at 10:10 AM on January 30, 2006

Honestly, I don't have any ties to this author, publisher, etc. but I can't recommend this book highly enough. It completely changed my life

Ignore the 'Feng Shui' aspect if you like. I did.

I had a truly frighteningly serious clutter problem.

Could not let go of anything.

I was always buying books on how-to-declutter, how-to-organize, how-to-build-storage-solutions. None of them helped. They just piled up and contributed to the problem.

This book is not about HOW to solve this problem. It's all about WHY. When you release the things that you are clinging to and can't let go of, you allow new and better things to enter your life. This was absolutely true for me. My home has gone from being insanely out-of-control and un-enterable by anyone but myself, to a stripped down, but serene, almost zen-like place to call home. And it enabled me to do a complete life makeover at the same time.

It's a joy to cook in my stripped-down kitchen where I know right where all my kitchen pots, pans and utensils are. It's a pleasure to get dressed in the morning when I know right where to find every sweater, pair of pants, pair of socks, etc in my stripped down bedroom. It's so much easier to bay bills and do all the little home office things when I know the exact location of the 90% fewer pens, staplers, tablets, in my dining room cupboard and secretary.

IMO, I would discourage the e-bay solutions, since I would guess that this might require more organization than you may be up to. I know it did for me. And it keeps you tied to these things until their rightful owner shows up. Don't wait for them. Allow your things to find their homes on their own, as suggested by most of AlisonM's ideas.

But also, don't beat yourself up if you're not ready for this right now. I lived like this for 20 years. A friend gave me the book a year ahead of when I was at the place in my life to be ready to embrace it's new way of living.

Good luck !!
posted by marsha56 at 10:33 AM on January 30, 2006

By saying I didn't want to throw them away, I meant that seems like a waste since I paid so much for them. However, I need to do something to get them out of my apartment! I've just got to get past the notion of it being a waste. I do have obsessive tendencies, so hoarding makes total sense in my situation. That is what I've been doing.

Thanks for the suggestions. Taking care of this problem is my mission for this weekend.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 10:50 AM on January 30, 2006

Give give give them away. Leave them in public places where you know folks will be sitting with nothing to read, or make a few calls if you want to organize a donation to a certain place. It feels great to pass them along, which helps offset any residual pangs of loss for stuff you weren't using anyway.
posted by mediareport at 11:06 AM on January 30, 2006

I'd like to second theora55's suggestion of putting these on freecycle. Just post them to freecycle and someone will be more than happy to come to you to pick up whatever you need to get rid of. If you don't want to do that, simply recycle them. You'll feel lighter and liberated once you get rid of the clutter.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 11:08 AM on January 30, 2006

« Older A collage montage...   |   Enable screen resize? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.