Maven Moment: Refrigerator Magnets

Souvenir refrigerator magnets on a fridge

Mom’s friend Louise loved her refrigerator magnets. She had all kinds and each one came with a memory or a photo attached to it. There were pictures of her younger self, magnets that represented saints or had prayers on them, and souvenir magnets that she got on her travels. We even brought her some to add to her collection when we went to Italy a few years ago. She loved them all.

We also brought back some souvenir magnets for ourselves to remember our amazing trip. I got an Italian coffee pot, an Amalfi Coast scene, and a Neapolitan clown. I also have a picture of myself taken at work on Earth Day that I like to look at and remember.

These items can bring joy and are a reminder of good times and those you love. But what do you do with those not-so-pretty magnets that you may have been gifted or those promotional items that are like magnetized business cards?

Reuse Ideas

Before you take your scrap metal to a scrapyard, use a magnet to identify the ferrous metals (containing iron, and thus magnetic) so you can separate them from the more valuable non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum, brass, and copper. Or, glue a photo that you like over a promotional magnet (I did that with my Earth Day photo). Another idea: Put a magnet on your washer or dryer in the laundromat so you don’t forget which machine is yours.

One side of my refrigerator faces the wall and I keep my “ugly” magnets there. I use the clip-style magnets to hold papers I want to keep handy. I also use magnets to keep seed packets organized and visible, and I attach a small envelope where I stash “coupons for education” seals for a coworker who collects them. Here are some other useful ideas for reusing fridge magnets.

Donation Ideas

Another idea for “ugly” magnets is to donate them to a school. If I had any extra, I would bring them to the preschool where I work so that the children could explore what a magnet is and what it does.

You could even post photos of your unwanted magnets on Craigslist or Freecycle. There may be refrigerator magnet collectors who are looking for just what you have, or even crafters looking for magnets for their projects.

Disposing of Unwanted Magnets

What about recycling options for refrigerator magnets? I did some research and did not find any viable recycling options in my area. So, I reached out to some local metal scrapyards and asked if they will dispose of them or even pay a little for them. I learned that some scrapyards do not take magnets at all, some will accept them and properly dispose of them, and some will even pay you about 5 cents a pound for magnets (stripped of the backings, of course). Call scrapyards that are close to home and work to find out what your local options are.

I feel that the best way to reduce waste is to not purchase or accept items that I can’t use or won’t enjoy. But sometimes, you just end up with things you don’t need. I think that, with a little imagination and creativity, we can keep a lot of our unwanted stuff from winding up in landfills.

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Joanna Lacey
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