End Of School Sustainability

For the last few weeks of school, my house has been slowing filling with endless amount of paper, art work, and journals/duo-tangs/folders that the kids started bringing home from school. While they were emptying their desks from school, the added clutter was accumulating in my house. I didn’t want to go out and buy storage containers for their work and realized the empty cereal boxes we have in the pantry were the perfect size to store most of their work. Upcycling and item that would have gone into recycling is a very sustainable storage alternative and great for our planet. Here is what my storage looks like for the end of this school year:

 I also noticed that when I sat and sorted through all the kids work, I found many work books, an art sketch pad, and duo-tangs that were almost unused. If you carefully go through the work coming home rather than just parking it in a box, you will save yourself money in the Fall with purchasing school supplies. We’ve been using the same package of O’Bon pencil crayons for each of my boys for three years because of the super high quality of these pencil crayons – this is an example of paying for quality goods that can be reused for many years. Check glue, scissors, pencils and supplies before putting them away for the summer – pull out rulers, sharpers for next year.

We also find shoe boxes to be great for up-cycling around here. We had a great time making compostable fairy gardens a few months ago, but we also use a shoe box to pack up the loose school supplies that are on the kids list to purchase. I’ve ignored the ‘plastic box’ on the kid’s list each year and sent them with shoe boxes they decorate with a picture of a favorite summer memory. Shoe boxes are the perfect size to fit into an elementary student’s desk and when they get tattered – dispose into the compost.  Shoe boxes are something that should never be thrown out – the storage solutions are endless with a quality box.

I’m not aware of a company that has perfected selling all-in-one eco-friendly school supplies. On the contrary, I think the pre-assembled boxes really skimp on quality and safety to keep the costs low which is why we opt out of that option every year. My kids used to be disappointed when they were the only kids not getting the pre-made box. I try to encourage them that it’s okay to be different and be proud of their boxes filled with upcycled and carefully selected supplies. It takes courage to be different and stand out in elementary school and I think these small acts can increase a child’s confidence. My kids have been bringing plain, steel tiffins to school for lunches since Kindergarten and are proud that their classmates think they are cool!  I also keep their backpack designs without commercialized prints so they can be reused until the backpack becomes tattered, rather than the kids outgrowing younger prints.

Do you have any up-cycling tips for end-of-year school supplies?  Please share in the comments.

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