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Recycling School Supplies

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

Picture from http://www.toddler-activities-at-home.com
Picture from http://www.toddler-activities-at-home.com

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.

Picture from http://plasticsmakeitpossible.com
Picture from http://plasticsmakeitpossible.com

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

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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