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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.

  • Adult Literacy Plus Of Southwest Arizona

    501(c)(3) Charity, School or Library, Adult Education, GED
    Yuma, AZ
    Serving a minimum of 150 students a month ranging in ages from 16 to 70 years old. Reading levels range from third grade to first-year college levels. However, the most common age of students is between 19 and 35.
    Needs: Approximately 150 magazines per month
    Magazines Requested: Magazines showing places, people, and animals around the world. Any magazines about hobbies or sports. Magazines that open students’ eyes to the world around them.

  • Maryland Correctional Institution–Jessup (MCIJ)

    School or Library
    Jessup, Maryland
    Serving male adults 18-60 years of age. From pre-literacy to varying reading levels.
    Needs magazines for 30 students monthly
    Magazines Requested: Students enjoy nonfiction magazines with lots of pictures and short articles–this would include magazines about animals, geography, science, food, clothing, anything relevant to today’s world. National Geographic for Kids would be wonderful.

  • 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.

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