Everyday Enviro with Elise : magnet mayhem

By Elise Catterall 1 February 2023

Manage those annoying advertiser magnets so they are reused thoughtfully and stop new ones landing on your doorstep.

Over the past few weeks, I have received a slew of magnetised advertising calendars – mainly from local real estate agents but also from a local tax agent.  Throughout the year we occasionally get advertising magnets for plumbers, electricians and others. Occasionally they are useful and far less annoying. The large calendars, I’ve got to say, drive me bonkers. 

I never use them as a calendar (and even if I did, they are only good for one year), I can’t throw them in the recycling bin as they are magnetised, they are too big to serve a different purpose on my fridge (that is, holding up something actually important) and they are unattractive and don’t hold any sentimental value. So, what can I do with them?  I don’t want them to go to landfill (which I’m sure is flooded with many already), instead I decided to investigate my options.   

This is what I found, and it is a two-step process. First, I need to get creative to use the ones I have in some way and second, I need to tell these businesses they are not only wasting their money on this form of advertising, but they are also spending money on guaranteeing I will never use their services. 

There are quite a few ways I can deal with the magnets that I have accumulated but before I discuss those, it’s important to understand that, despite the magnets having a functional use, they are essentially plastic. They are typically made with flexible sheet magnets that are made of a synthetic base material (often vinyl) with a layer of ferromagnetic powder.  Like all plastic, we want to avoid them landing in landfill.

I found lots of ideas to use them – as is, cut down and/or with the ‘advertisement’ removed and cleaned up with eucalyptus oil. 

  • Use them to post artworks or photos.  The magnets can be glued to the back of photos or artworks, either cut down to a smaller size or in their full size if the artwork is larger. 

  • If they are strong enough (they often aren’t), you can glue things like pegs or notepads onto them to give them a proper functional use or cover them with white contact to make a small whiteboard for shopping lists for your fridge. 

  • Cut them up into letters or geometric shapes to make a puzzle, like a tangram, for the fridge or other magnetic surface. 

  • Cut out the centre of larger magnets to make a magnetic photo frame.  As most magnets are only magnetic on one side, you will need to make the outermost side pretty – either by cleaning off the advertisement or gluing on a covering like fabric or wrapping paper. 

  • Cover one to make a sign for your mailbox that clearly says, ‘no junk mail’. 

Another, more limited, option is donating them. If you take the advertising material off them you could donate them to childcare facilities to be used for puzzles or for art and craft activities. Alternatively you could see if you could donate them to somewhere like Sydney’s repurposing saviour, Reverse Garbage.  

The last step to reduce the magnet flow is to go back to the business who sent you the magnet and let them know you are not interested, and, instead of inspiring you to use their services, they encourage you to actively avoid them. 

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.

Elise Catterall
Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.