Magazine Recycling Lessons Learned

From time to time, I like to share responses I’ve sent to questions in emails, so our stakeholders benefit from the lessons we learn everyday.

Today I was asked, “Where did our Magazine Harvest program originate? Is it fairly new?”

Well, to make a long story long…

The idea for Magazine Harvest, our magazine recycling program, originally came to me back in 1994… Since 1985, I had been conducting food drives… standing in front of supermarkets to collect groceries for food pantries with empty shelves. I could stand in front of a store and collect 2,000 pounds of groceries in a single day. My kids were growing up and getting their magazines… I realized that the hungry families we were feeding could not afford magazines and most did not have many reading materials at home.

I wanted to change that.

For a few years, I organized magazine sponsorships between donors and schools, so I set out to grow that success to other communities, on a national, then global basis. As the internet developed, I knew I could leverage technology to accelerate our growth. Fast forward to 2004, I founded MagazineLiteracy.org. A couple of years ago, around Earth Day, it occurred to me that we could collect gently used magazines the same way food drives are organized. With research, I learned that there had been a few wonderful efforts in Seattle, North Carolina, and Hawaii, but no national or global effort. So with the help of many passionate volunteers, generous donors, and appreciative literacy agents, we’ve been collecting magazines ever since.

We have learned some important lessons since our start, and are working to improve our reach and our operations every day:

  1. moving magazines around is hard work that requires help from lots of caring, passionate people
  2. before collecting magazines, it’s important to know where you will be bringing them
  3. it’s important for agencies and new readers to receive good quality magazines.

Join us to change the world – one magazine at a time!

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