Recycling Last Year's School Supplies

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

It's time to go back to school which means it's an expensive time for parents. Besides buying new clothes and school supplies, time is spent cleaning out last years' things to make way for the new. Try to use some of the old to make the new and save some money.

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The Clothes

For most parents new clothes are a necessity. However, try to incorporate last year's clothes this year. For a boy who is in love with Spiderman but outgrew last year's shirts, buy cheaper plain shirts for this year. Then, cut out the Spiderman logo from last year's shirts and affix it to the new one with spray adhesive, stitching, or iron on adhesive. Patterns from old clothes can be cut into patches to repair old backpacks and lunch bags to make them stylishly new.

While girls will enjoy the same tricks, try to make some new purses from last year's pants. Cut the leg off an old pair of pants and stitch one end closed. Then, make a hem around the top, leaving it open like a pouch. Attach an old shoelace, bandana, or belt to each side of the tube about halfway down on the outside. Then, add a button hole, a snap, or a toggle to create a closure when the top of the purse is folded downward to one side.

The School Supplies

For some it might be a little late to save last year's supplies, but think of it as a tip for next year. For others, the backpack that was thrown in a corner in June might still be sitting there. This year no child will want to bring a used spiral notebook on the first day of school, but by throwing it away she throws away twenty pages of new paper as well. Recycle these into homework notebooks or tear out the perforated pages and add them to the loose leaf paper pile for this year.

For smaller children, invest in a crayon maker. These gadgets are fun for the kids, as they require you to melt down old crayons to make new swirled ones. Gather last year's worn wax crayons and make new ones for this year. (Those who do will soon learn that it's worth the investment in Crayola and other higher quality crayons as the cheaper ones tend to melt poorly-proving their lesser quality. The investment will pan out when the crayon gets two or even three uses during melting.)

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Organize Them

Locker and desk organizers are great, but it's expensive to be stylish. Organize kids with personality and frugality instead. When the new shoes come out of the box wrap it with gift paper and use it as a storage box for the desk. Grab some leftover spray paint and a plastic coated footed pantry shelf or hanging shower organizer and give it a fresh look for lockers. Pharmacy medicine containers make great push pin and paper clip holders if the labels are removed, as do plastic film containers.

Even last year's backpack can be used again. Decorate it with fabric paint or sponge on some acrylic shapes to give it new life. Then, cut off the shoulder straps, leaving only the top loop for hanging. Suspend it from an over the door hook and use it to organize important papers, library books, and long term projects.

Remember, what's old can always be new again.

August 13, 20070 found this helpful

A really nice purse can be made with the top of an old pair of jeans. Cut straight across at the crotch taking care not to snip the insides of the pockets. Stitch across this bottom edge. thread a folded bandana through the belt loops and tie in front. I used a second bandana for the shoulder strap. Loop one end through a side belt loop and knot or stitch in place then do the other end in the other side loop. You have space inside for wallet etc. The outside pockets are great for keys and other small things.

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August 14, 20070 found this helpful

We "recycle" last year's 3-ring binders by slipping a piece of pretty scrapbooking paper inside of the clear plastic sleeve that covers the binder. Looks like a more expensive new 3-ring binder! My daughter also glues scrapbook paper to the outside cover of those 1 & 3 subject notebooks that we get on sale for 10 cents each, they come out looking just like the "designer" ones that cost $1.00 each.

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