“How do I get rid of old school supplies?”. I find myself asking this question routinely as I am left with plenty of old school supplies year after year. It’s either they’re going to be stored indefinitely to be forgotten over time or will be added to landfills, which is not really an appealing option for me.
I knew I needed to find ways to make good use of them because every school year comes to an end.
And by the time school is done and everyone’s left with a lot of extra, unused, and old school supplies most of the time they will stay idle or just go right straight to the trash.
You see, old school supplies don’t have to go straight to trash bins, we can still find a good way to reuse and repurpose them.
And today, we’re going over some of the ways on how we can get rid of school supplies safely and sustainably!
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How do I get rid of old school supplies? 7 Best Ways To Repurpose Old School Supplies
1.) Pens, Pencils, and Markers
Rationally, pens, pencils, and markers aren’t really recyclable. Since they are consumable supplies which means they are intended to be used up and get replaced at some point in time, it can be tricky to find ways on how to still put them to good use after they’ve served their purpose.
But there are great and amazing initiatives and programs that pave the way to turn old writing instruments into new products like storage bins and other useful items that we can use around the house, at school, and in offices.
One of the amazing programs is:
TerraCycle Writing Instruments Recycling Program – To send items that you want to be recycled, you’ll be required to purchase a Zero Waste Box, which will serve as the container of the items you want to send to them, and once received they will start to undergo the recycling process.
One of their brigades that you can take advantage of is the BIC Stationery Recycling Program which is a partnership between TerraCycle and BIC to form a national recycling program for all types of writing instruments and packagings.
And the best part is signing up for this brigade is free, all you have to do is to request, collect, and fill in your box, print your label, and ship it to them. You can send them all brands of writing materials, including watercolor dispensers, glue sticks, paint sets, and other flexible packagings that most school supplies come with.
2.) Notebooks and Papers
This might be the easiest one to dispose of, used notebooks and loose papers can easily go to the paper recycling bin. If you are trying to get rid of spiral notebooks, please do try to remove the metal spiral coil first and any plastic covering before you put them in the recycling bin.
If you do have notebooks that still have a lot of unused pages you can try to put all of the unused pages together to create a new one that you can customize and use for the next school year ahead!
This can be a fun DIY project for you and your kids, especially if you love arts and crafts. This way you’ll have quality time together, and also create something that is one of a kind. It can also be a fun summer project for your students.
This will also teach them to repurpose and recycle things that can still be used and help them learn about making sustainable choices.
If you are left with a lot of colored loose papers, you can also turn them into a fun paper mache project! The possibilities are endless, you can always put the used paper to good use, just let your imagination run wild and make it happen.
Whenever I buy my daughter a new set of crayons, by the second half of the school year, she’s always left with used crayons that no longer have any labels—making it hard for her to identify which color it is while some of it is also already half of its original size that can be hard for her to grip on to.
This ultimately leaves me with no choice but to get her a new set. Now, what do I do with the used crayons, you ask?
Well, I found some amazing ways to make use of them and not just let them add to landfills because they don’t have to.
Did you know that crayons that end up in landfills can cause clogs and can cause real damage to our environment?
Back then little did I know, that a crayon can take up to hundreds of years to completely break down because its main material is made from petroleum-based wax.
And year after year almost half-million pounds of crayons are thrown away in the U.S., and that’s a lot of crayons ending up in our landfills waiting to decompose for the next hundred years or so. That’s not a good thing for us and for the next generations in line.
I found “The Crayon Initiative” which takes used crayons and saves them from trash bins to recycle them and uses them to create new crayons that will be given to children’s hospitals all over the country.
The crayons are produced with the help of amazing volunteers giving their time to create these magical crayons that bring smiles to children’s faces across hospitals in the U.S.
Another great initiative that I found was the “Crazy Crayons” program. It is actually the National Crayon Recycling program that molds non-toxic crayons in amazingly fun shapes and sells them through their website to support their cause.
So if you have unused and old crayons lying around better look them up and send them to them, you’ll be disposing of them and will make good use of them instead of throwing them away mindlessly.
In school, we use a lot of electronics. We have calculators, laptops, tablets, and other types of gadgets that use batteries. A good way to dispose of them in a sustainable way is to donate them or have them resold and refurbished to be sold again in a good as new condition.
Some electronics stores offer e-waste collection services. One company that implements this is Apple.
People who have Apple products can make use of their recycling program and their trade-in initiative where you can bring in your used but in good condition, phone to get credit for purchasing your next phone.
Other brands also have their own recycling programs, so you can check in with your device manufacturer to know more.
I’m a bookworm, and I seem to have passed that down to my daughter as she also loves books herself, and that’s something I am proud of. We always go to book sales and we always love buying used books because you’ll never know what surprise you’ll find in them!
But there are times when we have to deal with tall piles of books already overflowing our bookshelves. And to discard them, what I do is donate them or sometimes resell them.
And for sure, a lot of parents and teachers as well also deal with books that need to be put away, as sad as that sounds books can endure time as long as they’re kept and stored well and can still be used by other people for a good purpose.
Books can always be donated, and there are a lot of programs and charities that welcome book donation to help their cause even online.
It’s also a good idea to reuse textbooks, you can share them with friends or with your younger siblings or cousins, this is actually encouraged in schools to save money and to reduce waste as well.
6.) Folders and Binders
Folders and binders are also a part of the conversation. Plain paper folders can be easily recycled in the paper recycling bin but it can a different topic for plastic ones the same goes for binders.
If they’re still in their tip-top shape, you can opt to keep them and reuse them for the next school year and that’s always a good idea for your pocket and for the environment too.
But if they’re really damaged beyond repair, then maybe it’s time to throw them away. But it’s always an option to send hard to recycle materials to TerraCycle.
Students don’t really need to have a new backpack every start of a new school year, if it’s still in good shape then you can still let them use it. Also, it’s best to opt for bags that are tried and tested to stand the test of time, especially as a school bag.
If your kids have already outgrown the bag you can always opt to use it for another purpose, or have it donated too. There are a lot of kids needing a good backpack to use for school and they will surely appreciate it even if it’s a used one.
These are just some ways on how you can responsibly put away old school supplies and still make good use of them.
Keeping unnecessary items from our landfills is what should be done, and you’ll find it pretty fulfilling once you’ve done it, I promise you. We just need to tweak out a few steps in our routine and we’ll find ourselves greener and happier!
Ultimately, it’s all about being aware and conscious about the things we do in our daily life. Small things help create big changes. And just by starting with yourself, you’ll be amazed by the domino effect it can create.
Also, for the next time, you might need to do a supply run, it’s best to opt for reusable, recyclable, and durable items. This will save you money in the long run, and will also help keep our home cleaner and greener.
Always remember the 3 R’s; Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!
What’s your own way to discard old school supplies? I’d love to read them in the comments down below.
Until next time!