By Larraine Roulston:
Reusing, Recycling and Repurposing school supplies are several ways to encourage children to be part of their Zero Waste Generation.
I’m still writing notes in my children’s half used workbooks left from their public school days. Before discarding a full written workbook that has either a metal
spring coil or plastic bar with tabs, you first have to separate the two, as these would be contaminants in paper recycling. As well, you should remove the covers from books with ripped bindings (which make them non-marketable at a thrift store) before placing the pages in your box for paper recycling.
To make large crayons from all those broken and stubby bits of wax crayons that children avoid using, fill paper muffin cups with crayon bits (paper removed) and place in a muffin tin. Bake in an oven on low heat until the crayons melt. When cooled, they are thick with swirls of color, making them both interesting and ideal for tiny fingers.
In my Peterborough County of Ontario, not only can the traditional plastic food containers be recycled, but also hard plastic is now being introduced on special collection days. This includes broken rulers, beginner’s scissors, pen tops, and CD cases. Most recycling depots have a designated scrap metal heap where you can include rusty paper clips, broken binder bars with rings and twisted book coils. Here, too, look for the large E-waste container for old computers, printers and school supplies of that nature. Also, the school community can collect batteries and E-waste to be sold for fundraisers.
Magic Markers were always a problem for me when they dried out. However, the Crayola ColorCycle program recently was launched for K-12 students in schools across the United States and parts of Canada to collect and repurpose used markers. This initiative takes all brands of unwanted markers, regardless of the different kinds of plastic or how they are assembled, and processes them into energy. The program, which is free for schools, asks people to collect markers, weigh or count their contribution, and call FedEx. Crayola is hoping to roll out the program to include home schools, day cares and preschools in the future. In the meantime, they encourage anyone using markers to contact their local school. If you do not have access to a participating school and your recycling facility accepts #5 plastic, you are able to deposit only the caps. The tips and reservoir would need to be removed first. This program is eliminating hundreds of tons of markers from landfills.
If you have a 3Rs craft box that I noted in my Christmas Crafts article, many discarded school supplies and their packaging could be included as well to create great works of art. Pen caps, binder coils, springs from pens, metal binder bars, and even broken elastic bands can be added. Both parents and teachers will stretch their budgets further with a 3Rs craft box and at the same time offer children a greater opportunity to be creative.
Larraine authors the Pee Wee at Castle Compost series www.castlecompost.com