Sunday, October 14, 2007

Scaling Your Magazine Mountains

Last week in Magazine Madness I discussed my attempts to find solutions for dealing with old magazines. Other than recycling, I really didn't find too many, but I did figure out a better way to organize what I had. In the absence of actually getting rid of stuff, organizing it can be the next best thing to help make clutter more manageable.

My magazines used to be stacked about in various and precarious piles, which I would shift from one place to the other or have to restack. Finally, I decided to go out and get some magazine holders, which come in all sorts of flavors: plastic, metal, cardboard, wicker, translucent, opaque, snazzy colors and so on. I settled on a simple cardboard version, readily obtainable at my local office supply store and easy to assemble by folding together. Also, although I didn't think about this at the time, if my magazine collection ever appreciably dwindles, I can just as easily break them back down for easy storage until they're needed again.

As I said, I had a lot of magazines so to make it less daunting, I would buy a package or two (2 to a package) each week, until I had enough. By doing it this way, I was able to break the task down into smaller segments, and actually see visible progress in moving from a state of disorganization to one that was more orderly. I say unto you, the ability to trick one's Inner Packrat by any means necessary is a skill that should not be underrated.

Now that the magazines are no longer toppling over, I am better able to select which ones I want to review and then determine those I want to keep and those I will get rid of. For example, I had about eight year’s worth of PC World! However, I finally faced up to the fact that there was just no point to that. With the way technology changes so quickly, a lot of the information in them was just plain out of date.

Also, you may or may not have noticed this, but many magazine article topics recur every few years. They are either perennial favorites, or are updated to give them a new spin to address contemporary issues. This is another very good reason to stop hoarding old magazines! At some point what has come around once will go around again.

Yes, I know, for a Packrat things are never quite that easy. In spite of everything I've just said, one thinks they're might still be some useful tidbit of information which might never be written about again. In the case of my PC Worlds there were indeed some tips that I haven't seen again in later issues, so to satisfy myself, I went through them a little at a time, clipping the articles I wanted to save and tossing the rest.

I've just about finished! Whoo Hoo! My ultimate goal is to just keep the most current 3 years of this magazine and drop the oldest each year (sort of like what you're supposed to do with your old bills and banking statements every so are doing that right...!?)

Anyway, happy climbing!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Magazine Madness

Researching ways to reduce my magazine clutter was one of the things that originally propelled me onto my DeKlutter Quest. In this blog's inaugural post What Yet Another Blog!? I wrote about the difficulty of finding new homes for still usable stuff, and I have definitely found this to be the case when it comes to magazines.

After scouring the Internet for magazine donation, reuse or exchange options, what I have mostly found are articles with generic laundry lists of theoretical suggestions such as senior citizens' homes, medical office waiting rooms, or your local library, but very few references to individuals or organizations who are actually accepting such donations in practice. Organizations tend to have specific needs and wants that don't necessarily include or overlap with the Packrat's need or desire to get rid of things.

Libraries, for example, to the extent that they accept magazine donations at all, tend to be very specific about either the titles they are willing to take or how old they can be. They prefer magazines of a substantive or serious nature such as National Geographic or Architectural Digest as opposed to more popular fare like Cosmo or People. They will probably also require that magazines be no more than 6 months to a year old, (Hahahahahaha! Yeah right!). Depending on the title and a given library's particular needs, they may incorporate such donations into their existing collections, but it is more likely that they will be used in a "Friends of the Library" type group book sale to raise money.

I was able to get rid of several years' worth of back issues of Threads, a high-end sewing magazine in this manner (also a component of my fascination with fabric, written about in these here pages; see also A Fair & Square Send Off). I listed them at® (see Throwing Away at® . Oddly enough, an animal rescue non-profit took them to sell on eBay! I'm hoping to strike similar gold with a stash of Brill's Content.

Other places may be looking for vintage magazines or those published before a certain date. One site that I found was only looking for magazines published before 1945. Thankfully, I don't have anything that old! There's also the swapping alternative, either locally based where you can bring the magazines you don't want and trade them for something else, or via an Internet forum where people post their magazine wants and offers. Haven't tried that yet. Of course, if you have the fortitude you too can try the eBay route. As for myself, I haven't quite felt up to that either.

Anyway, together, the two criteria of time and topic may tend to rule out a substantial number of options for many of us, so the traditional paper-recycling route may be the only alternative. However, your mileage may vary depending on the needs of organizations in your particular community, so it doesn't hurt to investigate first. Helpful search terms might include:

  • magazine donation programs
  • magazine donations
  • reading material(s) donation(s) programs
  • reading material(s) donations
Good luck!

Next up, Scaling Your Magazine Mountains. Why? Because they are there and in the way!