Reading Clutter

20110606 MagazinesNever fear all you book lovers out there, I am not going to once again nag you into relinquishing books today. This post is about the accumulation of reading materials other than books.

Reading materials are another form of clutter that tends to accumulate around the house, in racks and on benches, tables and floors. Magazines, newspapers, sales catalogues… There is no reason why most of these can’t immediately go in the recycling bin once read. Particularly the newspapers and sales catalogues.

Quite frankly though in the age of modern technology there is no need to even acquire these reading materials in the first place. You can read the news on-line. Web sites like Pinterest or have all the links to inspiration one needs in the way of helpful hints, home decorating and cooking. All other topics can also be found at numerous other web sites as can most retail outlets’ specials of the week. So there really is no need for trees to fall, ink to be wasted, money spent or clutter to build up in the pursuit of something to read.

That being said some people still like a good old fashioned hard copy of these articles in their hot little hands. However, even in that case, by the end of the day the newspaper is full of old news and can go in the recycling bin. And hopefully I have convinced most of you that sales catalogues are best put straight in the recycling bin if you can’t find a way to stop them coming in altogether.  Now that just leaves magazines.

Magazines are often the tricky periodicals that people tend to cling to. They come in every subject available from craft to fashion to hunting to smut and gossip. Personally I think that paper and ink is totally wasted on the smut and gossip mags, however I can understand people wanting to indulge in a little reading on other topics of interest.

The problem begins when we convince ourselves to keep our magazines with the intention of looking back at articles, recipes and the like. I have done this myself in the past. I found though that what happened was I ended up with so many magazines that the thought of ploughing through them all, for just the right project, information or article, was so much bother that I gave up before I began. I knew the information I wanted was in one of those magazines but what a task. Had I bothered to put a data base together with a list of all articles I am interested in the task would have been easier. But once again putting that data base together would be a job and a half itself.

Then there is the idea of clipping articles but once again my experience is that those clippings also have to be filled somehow and nine time out of ten I never bothered to look back at them. On reflection I think it is a much better choice to scan articles, recipes etc of interest, save it to your computer under a folder name of like subject with a file title making it easy to identify at a later date. Then recycle, donate or pass on your copy for someone else to enjoy. If you don’t have a scanner perhaps a photograph will suffice.

Personally I choose not to purchase magazines at all these days. My subject of interest was usually cooking or craft. These days I just use my search engine of choice to find what I want quickly and easily on the internet. At least then I don’t have a huge collection of aspirational clutter wasting space in my kitchen or craft room.

Today’s Mini Mission

Reading materials are another thing that end up accumulating around the house, in racks and on benches, tables and floors. Magazines, newspapers, specials catalogues… There is no reason why most of these can’t immediately go in the recycling bin once read.

Eco Tip for the Day

Consider subscribing to digital copies of newspapers and magazines so as to save on paper and publishing.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Good one 🙂 I have substantial reading clutter, but it’s mainly free ebooks and PDF downloads. Am gradually moving into Calibre book management system and deleting duplicates and reading some of the shorter ones immediately!

  2. I have stopped buying any magazines. Most of my reading is online now except for the books, of course. And whatever little magazines I buy are donated once I read them.

  3. I’m another who no longer buys magazines of any kind. Whatever one’s interests there is so much more information that can be found online anyway and then there’s nothing to de-clutter 🙂

  4. Today I cleared out 49 (52 actually – 3 are recipe mags) scrapbook and craft mags and flyers
    Today I cleared out 4 mens jumpers (totally dead and so 80’s arrggghhh) thought they went last cull but noooooo!!!!
    Today I cleared out 12 fitness mags for men (they will go to the Doctors Surgery)
    Today I cleared out 7 more ratty t-shirts (rag collection for the Salvo Rag Service)
    Today I cleared out 3 empty household cleaner bottles (working my way through everything)
    Today I cleared out one ensuite cupboard – 1 ratty handtowel 2 empty shampoo bottles 1 broken hand wash pump bottle (will have to find another to transfer the liquid to – what a mess – yuck
    Today I cleared another section of the garage YAY YAY YAY !!!!

    Out of all that it was the fitness mags that perplexed me the most. I didn’t think we had magazines!! I’m accountable for mine but hubby had them in the corner cupboard. I must look at them at least once a day and not see them !!! huuummm!!

    Thanks for the post today Colleen, I will probably find more to go with the mini missions, but for now I’m just getting the stuff out the door!!! Walking Karri Trees’ room and wardrobe are so in my sights at the moment. The linen cupboard is getting another thrashing also. Why do I keep finding odd pillowcases and hand towels???? What The!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Dizzy, I LOVE your “what the’s” 🙂

    • Great decluttering effort once again Dizzy. Where do you keep finding the stuff.

      • Hey Colleen,
        I don’t know !!! All I can say is I think I packed up wanting to get everything done and didn’t ‘fling’ as much as I should have. I have moments of WHY and WHAT THE!!! I do know that ‘brain change’ is happening more regularly. The more I find to sort the more I sort and eradicate. Someone else is out there enjoying the things I never took the time to enjoy. I could smack myself at times but I’m so glad that our lives have changed enough for me to really want to change our space. Cleaning around and under ‘too much stuff’ has made me feel bitter and defeated. Before I would spend hours or a whole weekend getting ‘stuff’ organised and cleaning, now I can clean and dust in no time because I have pared down all the stuff which isn’t really important. I’m getting to the stage that I may want to have a cat just so I can swing it!!! Metaphorically speaking of course!! I wouldn’t really swing a cat hahahaha 🙂 🙂 🙂

        P.S I know there is more to go and I know I will find it!! 🙂

        • Dizzy, having moved a few times myself I can understand that. I always used to declutter before every move. What I didn’t realise was that I was only skimming the surface. After the last move, arriving here with more stuff than would fit in the house sure was a life lesson for me. It may have taken a while to get rid of enough stuff to be able to settle in properly but on reflection I am so glad it happened. I learned the error of my ways well and truly. And now I so love my new life with so much less stuff.

  5. We have continued to get our newspapers the old-fashioned way (and recycle them). The reason for this is because we do not have a laptop computer, so it is not at all relaxing to read the news online, and that is a requirement for us when we have long work days and want to rest our bodies while keeping up with what is going on in the world. We now receive only one magazine, which my husband uses on a continuing basis (woodworking) – and that is such a relief. I never wanted to part with them, and as you said, the craft magazines became a huge burden of aspirational clutter – and the “homemaker” type magazines often encouraged consumption (housewares! clothing! makeup!). Good post!

    • Hi Jo H, I agree, homemaker magazines do encourage consumption. Most mags do I suppose due to the fact that most of the profits they make are from advertising. And boy do those suckers have some advertising in them. There seems to be more ads than articles which is another good reason not to bother buying them.

    • Dizzy, having moved a few times myself I can understand that. I always used to declutter before every move. What I didn’t realise was that I was only skimming the surface. After the last move, arriving here with more stuff than would fit in the house sure was a life lesson for me. It may have taken a while to get rid of enough stuff to be able to settle in properly but on reflection I am so glad it happened. I learned the error of my ways well and truly. And now I so love my new life with so much less stuff.

  6. It took me a while, but my magazine accumulation has stopped. I have even reduced the number I have on the shelves. First step was not to purchase them.
    I dont have a desire to know the news each day, and can find news online anytime. My access to local newspapers online (free) provides me with access to the classified ads. (Births,deaths and marriages)
    A ‘NO JUNK MAIL’ sign on my mailbox reduced the bulk of paper clutter coming in to the house.
    When mail had ‘extras’; special offers, newsletters etc. I recycled them immediately, knowing if I did not have time to read them now, there would be no time in the future .
    Getting our utility bills online helps reduce the ‘bill’ clutter.
    Cleaning out my wallet of receipts has also helped reduce paper clutter.
    My daughter accumulates a lot of paper clutter by way of travel brochures and real estate brochures, luckily it is contained to her room .
    Magazines would have been the hardest item for me to Declutter . It has taken time for me to reduse the collection. The old idea of not being able to replace them and their cost was my problem. I like the idea of digital copies, and have subscribed to a couple of magazines.

    • Well done Wendy F. Changing ones mindset for the need of these things is the biggest part of the battle and it appears you have conquered that. Good for you.

  7. I’ve never been much of a magazine reader. Somehow I always found them too expensive in comparision with the price of a book.
    I’ll find something else to declutter though. Somehow getting used to buying so little and seeing that I’m able to repurpose most things has made me cling onto broken stuff more at late. I think more about mending and keeping “because it will come useful one day”. Tossing is getting increasingly difficult (or maybe it always was but now most things I should rid myself of must be tossed as the things that can be donated have been donated already), so that’s a new challenge for me.
    Please, someone assure me that tossing is okay, too, if things are worn or stained or broken!

    • Sanna it is OK to toss stuff. Especially if it is stained, worn and broken. You can only reuse and recycle so much.

    • Sanna, I have had – and still struggle with – trouble tossing things out. I am good at mending things and I don’t mind using things that way, within reason (eg. wearing good clothes for work but worn/stained/patched ones for yard work), so it’s hard to let things go if I think I could get one more wear or use from them. But what I have found over the years is that my stash of “old” things became larger than I could EVER use up. Once I started carefully choosing what to throw away, it got easier. Now I have a better balance of good/not-so-good things. I think balance is the key word.

      If you have things that are broken and could be fixed but you can’t or don’t wish to do the fixing, maybe you could put them at the roadside with a sign – “needs fixing” – or find a taker on Freecycle if you have that in your area.

      But, the short answer is what Wendy F. said – it’s OK to toss stuff!

      • I have made major decluttering efforts today together with my boyfriend. We cleared some furniture completely and try to freecycle them now. If they won’t be taken, we’ll bring them to the dump (they’re not in very good condition or of high quality, but they might still furnish a student’s room or so). This has forced me to get rid of some textile clutter I saved in there, just because there was room and I “might” need it some day. I’m looking forward to having the space cleared of all these bulky items that didn’t really serve any purpose lately. It will make the apartment so much lighter and spacious!

  8. This, Colleen, has been my issue for years. I can remember even as a teenager buying magazines and reading them over and over again. When I left home, they did not come with me. Was that the end of it for me with magazines and such? No. My mother was always looking at magazines and would always get the Sunday paper. I am not blaming her, but I did pick up on the habit and once I was at the point, that I was in a home instead of a dorm room, I started indulging myself in the paper and magazines. I was always good about taking out articles that interested me and recycling the magazine from there. That is until at my last home. That was when I did not have time and started to collect these things. I had a ton of recycling to do once we started getting ready for our move. I had no intention of keeping them, but I wanted to be able to look through them and just take out what interested me. The reality of that is there is never time, especially if you do not make the time or have a system in place to handle such things. Now, at my current home, I am almost done with the subscriptions that were given to me as a gift, and I will never get them again. I think that I have a better system in place now to control these things because it can get out of hand quickly.

  9. I have recycled tons of magazines – National Geographic, Shambhala Sun, Yoga Journal, organization and design magazines of all types!! It was quite difficult because I was a magazine hoarder!! I would pick it up to recycle it and look at the cover and think “Oh, I’ll read that article again; I’ll get to that one and read it, it looks fascinating… I can’t throw it out”…even if it was dated from 1997. But I bit the bullet and let them go. I still have a years worth of Scientific American I’m not yet ready to let go of. If I haven’t read them in a year, I will recycle or donate them. I also have a 16 year old son who is very interested in science. Hopefully he will read them as well. What I have done instead of buying hard copies of magazines now is install an app which allows me to get copies of magazines on my iPad. It is wonderful. I can read them at my leisure or right way and not cause clutter in my home. The app doesn’t have all the magazines I enjoy but I think I have more that enough subscriptions right now. I, too, read magazines online. I have noticed that for certain magazines which I cancelled my subscription , the content was really repetitive. I’m very happy with going digital.

    • Hi Leigh, that sounds like it was quite a big thing for you, so good for you getting through it and setting limits for the future. Old habits die hard sometimes but the end result is worth the pain of change. Well done.

  10. If you really want to read a magazine, you can go to the library or a bookstore and read it there. I find it is best to call and take your name off any catalogs and that will reduce the temptation as well as being more eco-friendly. As for magazines, why not just save the money? I do love reading hard copies of things. That being said, I just go to the library and check out my books instead of buying them.

    • Good advice Marianne.

    • Reading a magazine — not flipping through it to see if you want to buy it, but READING it — at a BOOKSTORE is actually stealing. You have enjoyed the content without paying for it, and you have rumpled it, possibly past the point of sale, and the next reader may not wish to buy it. The store loses the sale, possibly two sales: the magazine you didn’t buy AND the customer who didn’t want the rumpled copy.

      If you do not wish to pay for magazines, read them at the library instead. They have either been donated to, or paid for by, the library. The material has already been paid for and while you enjoy it, it is legally out “on loan,” just as a book is.

      • Hi Dez, I actually missed that part of the comment suggesting reading the magazine at a bookstore. You are currect. What I don’t understand is why big book stores like Barnes & Noble allow this to happen. Not only do people find a comfy seat and read them they don’t bother to put them back either. This is a practice I have never indulged in myself as I always thought it a bit odd. Thank you for bring this to our attention.

  11. I used to get 20+ magazines. I got them for next to nothing and read them all. Then they began to all read alike and would cover the same things over and over. I stopped taking them. Someone gave me a gift subscription to 3 magazines. I don’t know who. When the subscription runs out I do not plan to take them again. I pass them on without reading much in them. We don’t get the paper. That was just too much waste. We have no TV so what news we get is from online and that isn’t often. We catch the main headlines and that is it. Here in the US most of the news is someones opinion about some particular issue and that can go on and on for days. No thanks.

    • Hi Deb J, I so agree with you that new is only loosely based on fact. I find it more based on sensationalism. I sit there waiting for the full story but all they tell you is enough to get you interested and then leave you guessing. It is like some sort of chinese whispers.

      • I think one of the things that really irritates me is that they will put out this big story on some supposed cure or new medical procedure and then say it’s years and years away. It’s just another way to keep their ratings up. Often you never hear about it again.