You probably know someone – your parents, a college friend, maybe even yourself – who subscribes to National Geographic. The magazine contains some of the finest writing and photography available, and their iconic yellow covers have become part of our culture. But many people who subscribe just can’t bear to throw them away. They pile up, fill our bookshelves and basements, and can take over our lives. Lexington Herald-Leader writer Tom Eblen wrote about his own experience with the “yellow wall”, as he put it, and joked:
One of these days, I fully expect to see this newspaper headline: “Couple killed in bedroom ceiling collapse; police blame National Geographics in attic.”
They may not be as ubiquitous (or as heavy) as collections of old copies of National Geographic, but many of us are hoarding stacks of the various magazines published by the Boy Scouts of America. Though informative, interesting and just plain fun, these magazines seem to pile up around us, and unless we find a way to manage them, they’ll go from a small problem to a big one.
There’s probably no good reason to archive all those paper copies of Boys’ Life, Scouting or Eagles’ Call magazines. While much of the content is evergreen and can be reused and recycled, the BSA puts most of the good stuff online so you can search and read it any time, with much less trouble than digging through your old stack of dusty magazines.
Like their content, the magazines themselves can be reused and recycled when we choose to get rid of them. Rather than tossing them in the paper bin, try these alternatives (you might want to remove the address panel first, for confidentiality):
- Pass along copies to others in your pack or troop who don’t subscribe. While Boys’ Life is the best bargain going, and a boy receiving his own copy in the mail each month can be a booster to literacy, some families can’t afford or don’t choose to pay for a subscription.
- Likewise, check with your commissioner or unit-serving executive to see if there are any units in your area where few subscribe, and donate your copies to them.
- Donate them to your public or school library. But check first: Many libraries already receive copies, and more and more aren’t archiving them on paper. At our library, donated materials don’t often get shelved but rather are sold by the library’s Friends group to raise money for new materials.
- A related idea: If your library or school doesn’t receive Boys’ Life, your pack or troop could pay for a subscription. Students or library patrons might become interested in Scouting from seeing the magazine on the shelf.
- Take them to work, and leave them in your employee lounge or lunch room. It could be a good way to strike up a conversation with a co-worker who doesn’t know much about Scouting.
- Think of asking nursing homes, clinics or senior centers if they’d like to have your copies.
- Donate them to service organizations like the Salvation Army or Purple Heart. They’ll sell copies in their stores or donate them so others can read them. Check first to see if they take magazine donations.
Before heading to the trash can, think of others who might want to read the magazines you enjoy each month. And leave a comment if you have any other ideas!
Boys’ Life Magazine ©Boy Scouts of America. Image of Boys’ Life Vol. 1 No. 1 from Magazine History: A Collector’s Blog