Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eco-Friendly Tip-of-the-Week

School is almost out for the kids, and that makes me dread the last day of school. Not because I am not happy for my kids, but because they bring home all their half-used school supplies. There have been years where the school bag didn't get emptied out for a few weeks. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when emptying out the school bags this year.

Bottles of glue: Take the nicest bottle of glue and empty all the other bottles into that one. You get rid of the extras, and have one good bottle to use for crafts over the summer. Throw the old screw tops into the garbage and rinse and recycle the bottles.

Crayons: Put all the good one that are still long into one crayon container, we use an old shoebox, save them to use for the summer. Take the smaller and broken ones and remove the papers from them. Use them for different craft projects, such as remelting them into ice cube trays for a block crayon. Or make shavings and put them in between wax paper and iron, cut them into window hangings. The possibilities are endless with little pieces of crayons.

Rulers, dictionaries, calculators, pencil sharpeners & watercolor paints: Put into a supply drawer in your office to use them again next year. They will be safe and ready for back-to-school time. Plus you will know where they are if you need them over the summer. Side note: my kids need to have a very hard to find watercolor paint for third grade. They use it about three times throughout the year. I got the paint from a neighbor who's two girls used it first, then two of my kids have used it, and we will be passing it back for her son next year. It is still barely used!

Scissors: I always take one pair for my coupon box, and put the rest into the school supply drawer. They are great to reuse the next year too.

Markers: We always have an abundance of markers somehow. We use an old child sized suitcase for these. Once a year, normally this time of year, we go through the markers with scrap paper and test every marker. Throw away the ones that don't work, or are pretty well done working. Make sure to check the ones coming home from school before adding them to the suitcase.

Pencils: We barely ever buy new pencils. My kids get them at every birthday party they go to, so we have tons of pencils. I keep them all in the school supply drawer, and they use them year after year until they are gone.

Folders: If they are still in good shape, we reuse them too. The kids use them to play with in the summer, store their stories they are writing, or their various research projects they do through the summer. My daughter has also cut apart the older ripped ones to use in craft projects. She used an old one last week to make a handmade birthday card for a friend. It worked great because it is stiff like card stock.

Notebooks: I love getting the kids old notebooks back. I rip out the used pages and recycle them, then the notebook is mine. I have one in the car, one by each phone and more than one in the office for random thoughts. There are always used for these.

Now about this school supply drawer. Mine is always stocked with the various things they need for school. I tend to buy them in bulk when they are on a great sale at back-to-school time. When they need something in the middle of the year, they can grab it before they head out the door. I can pay 10 cents for a notebook in September or pay $3.99 for the same notebook in March. It pays to stock up. I can always tell at work when the new quarter is starting due to the high school kids coming through my lane with all new notebooks and folders. They are paying almost $40 every quarter for these new supplies. And that is not to mention all the gas and time they are spending. Plus you know nobody leaves Target with just what they came for. So it really does save you money to have a school supply drawer. If you don't have a drawer, make it a box under your bed or a bag in the pantry.

So as an overview, look differently at the supplies that the kids will be bringing home from school in the next few months. Repurpose them or save them for next year. Just remember to recycle the old papers, and anything else that can be recycled.

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A blog about living within your means in todays world, while being married, raising three kids, working full-time, and trying not to go crazy in the process.