It’s that time of year when kids bring home all of those used school supplies they’ve had stuffed in their desks all year..and dump it all over your house!  Here are a few ways you can get rid of all of those used school supplies in environmentally friendly ways!

Reuse It!

In the past we have been pretty bad about actually reusing our left over school supplies.  They tend to end up in a drawers or on shelves with the intention of using them again.  However, when it comes time to shop for school supplies at the end of the summer we always head to the store and never back to our perfectly good, gently used school supplies.

This year I’m going to make it my goal to (with my kids help!!) sort through all of the used school supplies they have brought home and have it handy and ready to go for next year.  I suggest sorting like items and storing them in any containers you have on hand.  You will likely have to 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’re done sorting, you’re all set with your stash of supplies for next year which will save you money and keep perfectly usable items out of the landfill…and from cluttering drawers all over your home!

Recycle It!

If in your sorting of the piles and piles of used school supplies your kids brought home you find items that really have had a good life and need to hit the road, do your best to recycle all that you can and keep as much out of the trash as possible.

Notebooks, including composition and spiral, can go into the paper recycling bin.  For spiral notebooks you’ll need to remove the metal spiral and put that in your metal recycling and all of the paper and the front and back cover are recyclable. Binders that are in rough shape can also be recycled at Office Depot – yeah!

Pencils are not recyclable and if you can’t give them new life with a sharpener and a new eraser they have to go into the trash.  Pens are also not recyclable in traditional curbside recycling programs but can be mailed to one of two places that I found for recycling and reuse:

Pen Guy Art
– accepts ball point, felt tip, dry-erase, Sharpies, markers, gel pens and every thing else to create unique art
– Ship to: The Pen Guy, 6484 Mirab, el Road, #994 Forestville, CA

TerraCycle Writing Instruments Recycling Program
– must enroll in the program before shipments can be made; there may be a wait list

There are lots of fun crafts you can create with used crayons but if crafty isn’t your thing or time isn’t on your side your unusable crayons (or the ones your picky kids refuse to use!) can be sent to:

Crazy Crayon Recycling Program
– Ship via FedEx or UPS to: Crayon Recycling 221 N Gunnison Avenue, Lake City, CO 81235
– Ship via USPS to Crayon Recycling PO Box 683, Lake City, CO 81235

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.  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 used 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!




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