Eco Back to School: What to do with the old stuff?

As you are preparing for the start of the new school year, the chances are that you have old stuff that you need to deal with, including old crayons and outgrown sneakers. The Eco Women are here to help! Even if you don’t have school-age children, you might find a few useful tips here too.

If your jeans are too tattered to pass along to someone else, consider using them for crafting projects (just Google “blue jean crafts”). If the jeans are beyond the help of even a good craft project, you can recycle them. Some Whole Foods stores collect jeans and you can also check Earth 911 to discover the options near you.

And what about all those old t-shirts? The Eco Women like using them for cleaning rags. They’re also great as packing material if you need to store or shop something fragile. Or tear them into strips and use them as garden ties for tomatoes, roses, and more. Recycla uses small squares of her husband’s old t-shirts to wipe off makeup at night.

You probably have plenty of old sneakers cluttering your hall closet. Can they be washed and passed on to someone else? If not, see if a local shoe store collects old sneakers to be recycled. If there is no local option, there is always the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe Program, which takes old shoes and recycles them into new things, including new apparel or as part of an athletic surface, such as a track or playground.

For some reason, Recycla’s daughters have several backpacks, even though the girls reuse their school backpacks from year to year. If you have extra backpacks that aren’t getting used, consider donating them to a local school, where they can be given to a student who can’t afford to buy one. You might also check with local non-profits, such as homeless shelters and other places that provide a safe haven from unsafe domestic situations. Plenty of folks (including adults) need a good bag for holding their possessions.

If you have old composition notebooks that still have some paper in them, use the paper for notes and lists around the house. Old crayons can easily be recycled. Old pencil boxes have plenty of new uses, including as traveling art kits for kids and mini sewing kits. Recycla keeps a cleaned pencil box in the family’s pool bag to hold everyone’s glasses while they’re swimming. (Use some of the t-shirt rags mentioned above to protect the glasses from scratches.)

The important thing to remember as you deal with old stuff is that there’s a chance it can be re-purposed in a creative way or passed along to someone who can use it. Use Google to some quick research to help point you in the right direction. Barring that, there could be a way to recycle those items and keep them out of landfills. Do your best to keep stuff out of the trash.

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One thought on “Eco Back to School: What to do with the old stuff?

  1. We’ve found uses for all of our leftovers. A gentleman in our town collects shoes for the missions in Third World countries. He gets all of our shoes once we no longer need them (he generally ships 17,000 or more pairs of shoes over at least once a year). All of our leftover school supplies, housewares, clothes the kids no longer want, even partially used health and beauty products go to my neighbor. She teaches ESL to immigrants and they will take absolutely anything we can donate. Larger items are dropped off at the local thrift shop and the funds are donated to a charitable organization. Nothing goes to waste around here.

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