What to do with old magazines

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Think creatively about what to do with unwanted old magazines

Read ’em and toss ’em. That’s what most of us recommended when asked what to do with old magazines. Read them and toss them.

Throw them in the bathroom long enough to be labeled as vintage magazines. Add them to the big box in the garage, where they will languish until the day when the box is too heavy to pick up and drag out to the curb on trash pick-up day.

What to do with old magazines has been a weighty problem—until now. Today, there are lots of easy projects that will lead to the creation of beautiful and useful items made from old magazines.

The top of the list is occupied with this suggestion—make paper mache. Shredded, ground-up or ripped-up magazines added to a watery mix of wall paper paste or general-use white glue render a paper mache mix perfect for making all kinds of useful items. Squish the pulp into round beads and string a necklace. Spread the mash evenly around the interior of a large, greased salad bowl. When dry, lift out the hardened paper mache liner and there you have it—another bowl, ready to paint or leave in its natural state.

Paper mache bowls look even better filled with an assortment of individually wrapped cookies or fruit such as apples or oranges. This solution to the problem of what to do with old magazines is an ecologically friendly one. Just don’t put a paper mache bowl in the dishwasher. Ideas abound for what to do with old magazines, when you start by using the magazines to make paper mache.

Paper mache items can be made from magazines

• Fruit bowls and snack bowls
• Pen and pencil holders
• Decorative containers for silk flowers
• Whimsical figurines and animals
• Flat sunshades for bird cages
• Long, narrow dishes for bread sticks

Fun jewelry items can be made from magazines

What to do with old magazines becomes less of an issue when the magazines are used to make useful items such as specially shaped bowls that might hold oddly shaped edibles such as avocados or jumbo artichokes.

Another great answer to what to do with old magazines is to make jewelry. A most attractive type of bead can be made from the glossy paper pages of old magazines. Choose magazines with lots of color. If you wish your beads to be primarily red, choose mostly red pages. If you wish to alternate red with another color such as blue or green, make a second set from mostly blue or green pages. This is a project that will have you never again asking what to do with old magazines. Here is the process:

• Rip out or cut out pages with colors you like
• Cut numerous diamond shapes, similarly sized
• Obtain a thin knitting needle to use as a form
• Wrap each diamond’s point around the needle
• Use a touch of glue as the wrapping begins
• Roll each bead tightly around the needle
• Secure the finished, pointed end with glue
• Slide bead off the needle. Repeat as desired
• Varnish the finished beads, if desired, and string

Use old magazines when making greeting cards

Youngsters are creative enough to quickly discover what to do with old magazines. They might make holiday cards or use the magazines in Valentine’s Day crafts for kids. Adults may decide to use old magazine pages in decoupage projects.

Decoupage entails covering an item such as a box or a book cover or a lampshade with layers of overlapping, pasted-on magazine pages, roughly torn around the edges to feather the borders. The finished item can be daubed with gold paint to add a luxurious element—or a fancy border. Think of the fun you’ll have when friends ask you what to do with old magazines. You can point to your lampshade and say, “Why not make this?”

Slow down the waste stream in your town

The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) is one organization among many that is emphasizing the importance of recycling magazines. An ongoing goal is the raising of awareness about what to do with old magazines. A recent feature tells about some of the recycling issues facing New York residents. The NRC story draws parallels to the recycling conundrums faced by people all across the country. Luckily, today, most glossy magazines, paper pulp magazines and newsprint are fully recyclable. A check of local ordinances helps put one’s mind at rest. Meanwhile, get creative and make some useful items that answer the question of what to do with old magazines.

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