When I was a kid, August was the only time I could get a new outfit for school (I was the youngest of four), the rest of my duds were hand me downs. I admit, I wasn’t fond of having to wear my older siblings’ clothes, but for my family it was a financial necessity.
Today, swapping clothes or using hand-me-downs isn’t just a financial necessity for me, but also an environmental one. Last year alone, we in Chittenden County sent an estimated 8.5 million pounds of clothing and textiles to the landfill. It’s time to think about some better ways we can keep our clothes in circulation and out of Vermont’s only landfill!
If swapping clothes with a neighbor or family member isn’t a possibility, consider swapping your duds at one of the many reuse stores we are fortunate enough to have in our area. You can start by checking out our list of all the reuse options in the area (and online!) on our Reuse & Donation Options webpage.
Beyond just the clothes
But why stop at just clothes? Reusing school supplies is another great way to save money AND decrease the negative impact we have on our planet from the disposable society we’ve become. You can shop for gently used notebooks, binders, and pencils at local reuse stores in our community. Again, check out our Reuse & Donation Options webpage to see all of your options.
“You should have seen how excited the kids were at dismissal – so many kids of all ages stopping by to get new supplies!”Suzanne Weishaar, second grade teacher and leader of C.P. Smith’s 2018 Cubby Cleanout
Besides all the reuse options in our area and online, you can also encourage your school to participate in a “Cubby Cleanout.” This is an opportunity for schools to collect materials for the next school year that the school can offer to students free of charge! Recycle Rhonda or other CSWD Outreach staff can provide the project management, extra bins, and day-of supervision. Schools just need to provide some volunteers and collection bins. This program can also tie-in nicely with summer programs offered through schools where kids can put together reused “Welcome Packages” for incoming students for the start of the next school year.
Even more ideas for back to school swapping:
- Begin an exchange program in your neighborhood where kids can swap school supplies, toys, and clothing.
- Check out the art supply cabinet at home and begin a new family tradition: Have the kids decorate leftover notebooks and binders to look brand new and personalized.
- Grab the duct tape (which comes in an array of colors and designs these days). Binders can be repaired and reused year after year.
- Use all the paper from old notebooks. Tear it out and put it in your binder!
- Use a reusable mechanical pencil instead of a disposable pencil.
- If you have papers that have only been used on one side, you can use them as scrap papers. You could even cut them in half, staple them together, and make a cool cover for your new scratch pad.
- Check with neighbors (Front Porch Forum!), friends, and family for extra school supplies they may have on hand from a recent graduate.
- In addition to wearable clothing, the Salvation Army also accepts (clean) raggedy items and fabric scraps to be recycled into carpet padding, automotive rags, and insulation. All of our CSWD Drop-Off Centers offers collection bins where you can offload your unwanted clothing and fabrics.