School’s out for summer! My kids finally get out of school today! It feels like we are literally the last people to begin summer, and the past couple of weeks have been a crawl to the finish line. We have been on total countdown to summer.
Now that school is out and it’s time for summer, it’s time to do something with all the old school supplies lingering in desks and backpacks. But before you toss them in the trash, here are some things that can be reused or recycled:
Backpacks – The American Birding Association accepts backpacks in usable condition for reuse, for scientists to carry their gear in on birding expeditions. Just think, your child’s backpack can go from schlepping lunches and binders around elementary school to holding supplies for tracking exotic birds in the tropics. How cool is that?
Binders – bring those old three-ring binders into your nearest Staples store, and not only will they be recycled, but you will also get a coupon for $2 off a new binder.
Books – If they can’t be donated, paperback books can be tossed in your recycling bin. Hardcover books need to have the cover removed, then the paper can be recycled.
Clothing – of course if it’s usable, donate it to your local charitable organization. For stained, ripped, or otherwise unusable clothing, recycle it at your local H&M store. As part of their garment recycling program, you get a coupon for 15% off one item for each bag of clothing you turn in for recycling.
Crayons – You can recycle broken or unusable crayons through the Crazy Crayons recycling campaign. Check out this page for details and shipping address for the crayons.
Glue – all bottles marked with a #1 or #2 triangle on the bottom are recyclable. For glue sticks that require a special type of recycling, consider encouraging your classroom to participate in the Elmer’s Glue Crew recycling program, where classrooms collect and return glue bottles to Elmer’s for recycling, and in turn receive 2 cents donated to the classroom for each bottle returned.
Paper – of course you know you can recycle paper, but what about those crafts and other handmade items your kids come home with. Here are some general tips:
OK to recycle – You can recycle stapled paper, colored paper, paper with ink, post-it notes with pressure sensitive adhesive, file folders, pendaflex folders (remove metal rod first) and most spiral bound notebooks (just remove the cover if it is plastic and toss in the rest – the recycling machinery will pull out the metal spiral during the recycling process).
Not recyclable – Painted paper; waxed, coated or laminated paper; paper contaminated with food waste; paper with stickers or tape – though you can remove the sticker or tape and recycle the paper.
Plastics – any plastic item (pencil boxes, pens, water bottles, lunch containers) that has a number in a triangle at the bottom can be recycled. If you are a Waste Management customer in Orange County, you can toss all of these numbered plastics in your curbside collection bin.
At a minimum, set aside usable items and reuse them next school year – don’t throw out those half glue sticks and crayons…use them next year. If you really must buy new, donate your old supplies to your local school or charity. Or, like this creative Nevada teen did, start a school supply recycling campaign.
With a little time and effort, you can ensure that this year’s school supplies don’t become next year’s landfill waste.
And then, go out and enjoy the beach. Cheers to summer!