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School is out: time to organize your school supplies

It's the end of the school year, and while many students are excited for summer, parents may be wondering what to do with all those leftover school supplies brought back home at the end of the year.

By taking a little time to get organized, you can save some money by identifying items you can use again and ensure that the things you don't need are disposed of in the greenest way possible. Start by grouping like items by putting papers in one pile, writing supplies in another, and so on. Then working group by group, divide items into four piles—keep, donate, recycle, and trash.

Follow these steps for each pile:

  • Keep: Put items in this pile that your child or a sibling can use again next year. This may include backpacks, lunch bags, pencil boxes, calculators, partially used notebooks, and pens and pencils still in working order.
  • Donate: Items in this pile include things your child ended up never using or won’t need again next year but are still in working condition. These could be wide-ruled notebooks, calculators, markers, and large crayons. Organizations like Arc's Value Village, Companies to Classrooms, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers, Sharing and Caring Hands, and St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores accept many common school supplies. Search the directory for locations that accept donations of office, storage and school supplies near you.
  • Recycle: This will probably be mostly papers and more papers. Sort through all of the work your child has done and recycle all of the paper you don’t want to keep. Staying on top of this can reduce clutter year after year. If you are reluctant to get rid of artwork, consider taking a photo of the art piece to keep the memory. Then you can recycle the art if you can – remember that things covered in paint, glitter, ribbons or other non-paper items are no longer recyclable.
  • Trash: Hopefully after your sorting you will only have a few things that go in the trash. These may be things at the bottom of the desk, locker or backpack that are simply unusable or unrecognizable. As you’re throwing these things away, consider how you could change your purchases to avoid creating the same waste the end of next school year.

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