Back to School Toss, Keep or Buy
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Toss It or Keep It?1 of 11
By Elizabeth Jenkins
One way to get your child excited about a new school year is by buying new supplies. However, not everything needs to be replaced every year. Amy E. Goodman, author of Wear This, Toss That!, and mother to two young children, explains which items can be reused and which ones need to be replaced.
Let's Do Lunch2 of 11
"When I was in elementary school, aluminum lunchboxes were hot," says Goodman. "But you had to get a new one each year because of the dents from normal wear and tear. Aluminum styles are making a comeback, so if your child opts for one, you'll likely need a new one each year." However, to avoid this, steer your child toward a colorful fabric style without characters, which can fall out of favor with your child. In general, fabric bags and boxes will hold up better and, therefore, last longer.
Get Packing3 of 11
"As your child grows, the backpack becomes a fashion statement," says Goodman. "If it's going to help them have confidence about school and their own style, then it's worth spending the money on a new one." Take your child's old, used backpack to Goodwill, or if you're looking for a good cause, consider donating to the nonprofit backpacksforkids.net, which gives backpacks filled with school supplies to kids in need.
Hit the Road4 of 11
"If your kid has outsized their bicycle, then it's time to get something new," says Goodman. "If not, get it tuned up before each school year begins so that the tires are pumped up and the chains are checked." And it's more important than ever to be sure that the helmet fits well and is secure. Letting your child ride to school on his or her own can be scary for parents, so you'll feel better knowing they're protected.
Write On5 of 11
"My big thing every year is to take out the whole drawer of pens and pencils, check each one, and toss the ones that are dry, low on ink or missing a cap," says Goodman. "Highlighters tend to leak over time," she says, "so that's another reason to test them out." For pencils, simply sharpen each one before the school year begins.
In a Bind6 of 11
"Absolutely reuse binders until they die," says Goodman. "I still have three-ring binders from when I was in high school. Right now they are housing old sheet music." However, binders can get more fragile with age. "Check all of the rings to make sure they snap shut completely," she says. "If one ring is slightly open, papers will constantly be popping out and your child will waste precious school time reorganizing their work as a result."
In the Fold7 of 11
"Paper folders often have really cute designs on them and kids love picking them out, but they really only have a life cycle of one year." says Goodman. "So recycle last year's folders and let your child delight in picking out new ones." Goodman admits she has tried resurrecting torn ones with clear packing tape, but says they are so inexpensive at office supply stores that it's not worth the effort.
Spiraling Down8 of 11
If your child's spirals are messed up or if the notebooks are already pretty full, go ahead and buy new ones," says Goodman. Buying one for each subject is worthwhile. They aren't expensive and it makes it easy for your child to keep her classwork organized—and easy for you as a parent to store them down the road. By labeling the cover with the name of the class, the year and your child's name, you create an instant keepsake.
Zip It9 of 11
"Pouches are so great for organizing pens and pencils and they last forever," says Goodman." Plus, a pouch will somewhat contain ink if a pen runs." Nowadays, there are tons of cute designs, "so as the child ages, he may want to swap his out. Otherwise just keep reusing it until it cracks or the zipper breaks," she says.
Stuck On You10 of 11
"Before school starts, test your glue supply," says Goodman. "If it's white glue, it usually lasts approximately two years. Dab some on a piece of paper to make sure that the opening is in good shape and that it is not hard to open or close the cap," she says. "I tend to use bottles of glue down to the very last drop and then recycle the packaging." If the bottle is sticky from glue that has dripped, simply remove it with a product like Goo Gone.
Race to Erase11 of 11
"There is nothing worse than eraser nubs and stubs," says Goodman. "Do eraser inventory, and if you need to restock, invest in some super-chic erasers that your kids will love to use. Personally, I love Iwako Japanese erasers, which are shaped like different animals, dessert—even sushi." Goodman suggests buying a set of six or seven and then distributing them among several children.