As more and more old-growth trees are cut down, and we face the reality of having to wait close to 100 years or more to replace them, the need to recycle paper becomes increasingly important.
Paper, of course, includes books and magazines. Although paper products are nearly 100% biodegradable, it is pointless to send these resources to the dump to rot in the landfill when we can recycle and reuse them.
More than any other material we hope to recycle, books and magazines represent knowledge. We find wisdom in the pages of old books and learn about the culture in the pages of old magazines. Because of these factors, the best thing to do with old books and magazines is to pass them on.
Your local library or college library will accept donations of old books, and sometimes magazines in good shape. This allows other people to benefit from the publication as well. Once you have enjoyed your book, donate it to a library rather than letting it sit on a shelf to collect dust.
The second choice, for both books and magazines, is to sell them to a used bookstore, at a garage sale, flea market, or on eBay. Other people may be looking for the exact book or magazine you have; passing it on is a win-win scenario for you and the new owner.
If you wish to reuse publications in a creative way, magazines make good colorful craft supplies for children and adults. You can cut out parts of pictures to make collages by pasting the picture pieces to a cardboard backing; or make hanging mobiles by cutting out shapes, stringing pieces of thread through holes at the top, and attaching the strings to a clothes hanger.
You can also cut out whole pictures to construct a dream board or a vision board, which helps you to think about and visualize the goals and dreams you want to achieve; for instance, a Hawaiian vacation, a certain type of job, or a new sports car.
As for traditional recycling, some areas will let you place books or magazines in your blue bin for pickup as well. Many publishers print magazines on glossy paper. It is more expensive to recycle glossy paper because the demand is low for this type of paper. This will change in the future as the need to recycle paper becomes more important.
The biggest challenge with recycling books and magazines is separating the paper from the adhesives or staples used to bind the pages. Forward-thinking recycling companies have a way to remove the waste from the bindings magnetically; in the future, we should begin to see growing opportunities to recycle all kinds of paper products.
Next time you’re thinking about throwing away some books or magazines, think first about how you can pass them along for others to enjoy. If that doesn’t work for you, try to reuse them creatively. If you still can’t find a use for them, look for places to take them where they can be recycled into new paper products, so we can save more trees.