It’s that time of year when your kids bring home all the school supplies they’ve had stuffed in their desks and backpacks all year..and dump them all over your house!

In this post, I’ll share some super simple ways you can sort through all of it and easily reuse, recycle or donate school supplies and send less to the landfill!  


School’s Out!

I’ll admit it, in the past, we have been pretty bad and about reusing or donating school supplies.

Maybe it’s ’cause at the end of the year, we are DONE with school!  We want to get those pesky binders, notebooks, and protractors out of sight – FAST!

So they end up in drawers or on shelves – or if I’m being honest – just left in the backpacks they came home in.  We intend to get to them but before we know it it’s August…oops!   :-0

So it’s no surprise that when it comes time to shop for school supplies at the end of the summer we head to the store and never back to our perfectly good, ready-to-use school supplies.

This year my goal is to (with my kids help!!) sort through all of the school supplies they have brought home and have them handy and ready to go for next year.

Does anyone want to take a bet on that one?  Maybe not the safest bet!  🙂 A girl can dream, right?!

In any case, I suggest getting to work ASAP to decide if you can reuse, recycle or donate school supplies.


Reuse It!

To determine what school supplies you can reuse next year, first weed out any items that just aren’t usable like dry markers, pens that are out of ink or notebooks with all of the pages used (we’ll get to what to do with those soon!).

Once you know which supplies are still usable, sort like items and store them in a container you have on hand.  But first, you may want to do a little refreshing.

I don’t know about you but it seems like my kids are required to have 7 notebooks at the beginning of the year only to use about 20 sheets in each of them!

Those are perfectly usable next year!  Just rip out the used pages and recycle!

Do a quick once-over of your other school supplies to see if any stickers need to/can be removed, binder cover inserts need to be taken out or mechanical pencils need lead reloaded.

Once you’re done sorting and refreshing, you’re all set with your stash of supplies for next year!

This will save you money and keep perfectly usable items out of the landfill…and from cluttering drawers all over your home haunting you all summer! 🙂


Recycle It!

You’re probably going to come across some school supplies that are in pretty rough shape that just can’t be reused, and that’s fine.

They lived a good life, served their purpose but now they have to hit the road.

Ideally, you’re going to get as much as you can into a recycling bin and keep as much out of the trash as possible.  Unfortunately, there are going to be some pieces that just can’t be recycled.

Here’s the scoop on some common school supplies you can use as a guide:


Notebooks, including composition and spiral, can go into the paper recycling bin.

For spiral notebooks, you’ll need to remove the metal spiral. 

You may be able to put the metal spiral in your curbside recycling bin but you’ll probably need to check with your community first.  (Yes, I know that’s more work but take the 10 minutes to find out.  Then you can tell your neighbors too!)


Unfortunately, binders that are in rough shape and are unusable aren’t easily recycled.  There was a program through Office Depot but I can’t confirm it still exists!  :-0

Pens & Pencils 

Pens and pencils and other writing tools are also not recyclable in traditional curbside recycling programs but can be dropped for recycling at Staples.  For more info, click below:

Recycling at Staples


There are lots of fun crafts you can create with used crayons but if crafting isn’t your thing or time isn’t on your side check out these crayon recycling options:

Crayon Collection
Crayon Initiative

Glue Stick & Bottles

Glue sticks aren’t recyclable but glue bottles can likely be recycled curbside


If all of this trash is getting you down, there ARE eco-friendly school supplies out there!  Check out my post, How to Easily Switch to Eco-Friendly School Supplies to get prepped for next year – and create less waste!


Donate It!

If you find after sorting through your supplies you have items that are in good shape but you just don’t need or won’t use, do your best to find them a new home, and donate your school supplies.

Whether it’s your local church, preschool, daycare or just your neighbor there is likely SOMEWHERE they can go besides into the trash!

I know it’s soooo easy to just do a nice big, clutter-freeing dump into the garbage but DON’T DO IT!  If you can’t find a local location consider one of these donation ideas:

– Double-check with your local donation center to make sure they accept gently used school supplies, mine does

Develop Africa
– Collects and ships school supplies to schools in Sierra Leone and other countries in Africa

– Ship to: Develop Africa, 1906 Knob Creek Road, Suite 3, Johnson City, TN 37604, USA


It’s Your Turn!

Now that you have some ideas for what to do with all of those old school supplies it’s time to get to work.

I’m guessing it won’t take as long as you think and you’re bound to feel good about keeping stuff out of the landfill!

See, it’s really that easy to have your family…only greener!

Happy summer!