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Elegant ways to recycle magazines to new readers

Is it possible that just reading the book In Pursuit of Elegance would fill our literacy tool chest with elegant solutions? Perhaps just having finished the Power of Intention audio book helped to move things along.

In the last two days I have encountered two beautifully elegant magazine recycling ideas that help to resolve some sticky challenges associated with the logistics of moving magazines around to new readers.

bluebin.org is a new web service that facilitates the re-use of goods within a community – much like freecycle.org – which is also a great idea. bluebin is blessed with a very friendly Web 2.0 design. When I arrived at the site, there were already some magazines listed for re-use. We’ve added some of our own and will encourage others to do so. This especially helps us address situations where generous consumers want to donate their magazines for literacy from locations where we do not yet have a volunteer team in place to manage the flow to community literacy programs.

Today, I spoke to a wonderful magazine distributor in Wisconsin who wants to get surplus, expired copies of magazines from the newsstand to new readers. This person has a ready supply of magazines that children and adults would love to read – especially our neighbors who find themselves in homeless or domestic violence shelters, or children in after-school or other mentoring programs. One of our most difficult challenges for our literacy marketplace is moving magazines around from literacy champions to literacy agents. The incredibly elegant beauty of this opportunity is that the Wisconsin distributor travels the State, picking up the surplus magazines, and readily wants to help deliver them to our volunteer teams or community literacy programs. The solution is win-win, where we bring literacy needs to the table that the distributor enjoys filling and children and families can enjoy magazines that would have otherwise been destroyed.

We’ve dreamed of tapping this newsstand link in the magazine supply chain since our inception and have had some success already. Developing this model further will teach lessons that will enable us to quickly inspire others to replicate the program. We are boosted by a convergence with technology that now allows distributors to scan returned magazines for audit purposes, rather than tearing their covers or otherwise returning them for destruction.

  • Hathaway-Sycamores’ Family Resource Center

    501(c)(3) Charity, Family Resource Center
    160 bilingual children per month ranging from a 1st to 6th grade reading level
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    Needs: 160 magazines
    Magazines Requested: any nature magazines, any sports magazines, any leadership magazines, any education magazines, any travel magazines and any appropriate entertainment magazines.

  • Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Org (HERO)

    501(c)(3) charity
    Greensboro, AL
    Serving the following number of monthly readers by age:
    Young (5 – 8yrs): 50
    Youth (9-13yrs): 20
    Teens (13-19yrs): 50
    Parents (20-45yrs): 50
    Grandparents (45yrs +): 50
    Magazines Requested: Education or travel magazines

  • Marymount of Santa Barbara

    School or Library
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Serving male and female students from junior kindergarten through eighth grade (ages 4-13)
    Needs: Magazines for 150 students from September 15 to May 15.
    Magazines Requested: Science, current events, animals, bikes, sports, books, writing, national geographic, track, space and astronomy, aviation week, smithsonian, sports illustrated

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