The need to recycle paper products becomes more important each day. As more old-growth trees are cut down for paper products and livestock grazing land, we rob our planet of valuable oxygen. Even if we plant new trees right away, we still have to wait decades to replace these valuable natural resources. Of course, we don’t want our kids to pay the price for that!
While paper products are mostly biodegradable – nearly one hundred percent – a great amount of those include books and magazines. Why send them to a landfill when they’re easy to reuse and recycle? The truth is that old books and magazines do have cultural and historical value. Not only is a good idea to pass them on, but some can even be valuable to collectors! As your kids are growing up, it’s important to teach them about the value of these printed materials after they are done with them.
Of course, you can also recycle old books and magazines, often for free, especially if they are quite beat up. But, not all recycling companies accept them just as they are. So, what are some good ways to reuse and recycle books and magazines than simply throwing them away?
Donate Old Books and Magazines to Local or College Libraries
Have a bunch of books and magazines that you or your kids no longer use? Ask your kids which books and magazines they are willing to let go. Both public libraries and school libraries will happily accept donations of old books and magazines in good condition.
Some of the best condition copies may end up on their shelves, while most others will be put out on racks for sale. Some of these books and magazines are also often used for running fundraisers to raise money for library improvements. In any case, it’s better than letting them gather dust in your home or storage unit.
Sell Valuable Old Books and Magazines
There are many resources online to see what your old books and magazines are worth. Several websites allow you to type in or scan the bar-code numbers of mass-market books. They will pay you cash and even send you a shipping label to cover shipping costs. However, be aware they usually pay you a small percentage of what the item is actually worth.
Used bookstores still exist, of course. But, many are very picky with what they’ll buy and some don’t actively buy and instead accept donations. Also, not everyone has used bookstores locally.
There are always sellers of used books and magazines at flea markets and antique malls, too. These can be great events to bring your kids to in order to teach them how to run a sale. But, you want to be sure that you’re actually selling something worth bringing and paying for the table space.
Then, there’s garage sales, but they typically aren’t big sellers for books and magazines unless you get lucky. One thing that can sell, though, piles of classic magazines like Highlights, National Geographic, and Sports Illustrated.
Speaking of classic magazines, in great shape, they can be worth money. Covers featuring celebrities or sports stars can fetch good money on eBay. For example, you can find many Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated magazines for sale online.
eBay is your best bet for selling books and magazines with actual demand. It’s easy enough to find out; just check completed sold listings and see if your book or magazine is anything that sells on a regular basis. If you find it’s not even worth the cost of shipping a particular item, then it’s better off to donate it, recycle it, or find a creative way to reuse it.
Creative Ways to Reuse Books and Magazines
For books with illustrations or pictures and magazines that have little or no resale value, you may decide to use them for creative purposes instead. Magazines in particular make excellent craft supplies for both kids and adults. They make great material for collages or scrapbooks. You can even make DIY hanging mobile art with magazine cutouts. You string thread through holes cut into the tops of the shapes and attach the shapes to a clothes hanger.
Another creative option is cutting out articles or pictures to create a vision board or dream board. These can help you visualize goals and dreams you want to achieve in your life – sort of like a visual bucket list. You can create one alongside your kids, as they are good activities for any age. These can include a dream career, a special vacation, or a fancy new car. Then, any remainder of these books and magazines can be easily recycled.
Recycling Unwanted Books and Magazines
Whatever you don’t feel like donating, reselling, or reusing creatively, you can always throw into the recycling bin. You’ll obviously want to recycle books and magazines that are in poor condition or ones you’ve already used for cutouts. But, also check what your local recycling pickup or drop-off center accepts first.
Some recycling centers will require you to actually remove the pages from the binding, or even remove all the staples, and only recycle the pages. Others will accept them as-is; it’s probably not worth the extra effort if you have to put intensive labor into preparing them for recycling.
Fortunately, more areas are accepting books and magazines as-is for recycling all the time. This includes even magazines printed on glossy paper. Because glossy paper is in much lower demand than regular paper, recycling companies don’t get as much in return as raw material. But, now some companies will take it anyway, as otherwise it will be likely put in the trash.
In some areas, to recycle old books and magazines you still have to separate the paper from the bindings, whether there’s adhesive or staples – or both – involved in holding them together. There are companies who can remove these bindings with their machinery. But, having to deconstruct books and magazines just for recycling can be a major hassle. So, donating them may be a better option for you if this type of extra labor is involved.
So, if you and your family have some books and magazines you need out of your way, take these good ways to reuse and recycle them in mind. Not only is it a good idea to give people another chance to enjoy these materials, but keeping them out of landfills is great for the environment. Whatever you do, make sure to reuse and recycle whatever paper products you can to save as many trees as we can. Let’s be sure our kids have a very green future!