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School Supplies

If you have kids, you know that they have a gravitational attraction for random stuff. Whether your kids have been to school for five months or five days, the end of the school year is bound to bring with it rumpled backpacks, broken pencils, crumpled papers and used school supplies of every kind.

Remember, the best way to beat clutter is to prevent it from piling up in the first place! Follow these simple tips to put school gear in its place and make room for a carefree summer:

Sort & Salvage!

When the inside of a locker winds up in your living room, start by sorting—and get your child to help out!

Spiral Notebooks & Three-Ring Binders

Used and worn notebook? Tear off the spiral and recycle the rest. If there are blank pages inside, tear out the used pages and put the notebook aside for next year or use it for scrap paper by the phone. If your three ring binders are broken, tear off the plastic cover of the binder, discard, and recycle the rest. Still good? Recycle any loose leaf paper and put the binder aside for next year.

Pens, Pencils, Crayons, Markers

Broken, dried out or chewed up? Throw it away! Sort the rest and save it for next year.



Art projects are the Achilles heel of school year decluttering. How can you throw away those precious macaroni and feather portraits? You don’t always have to!

First, go through everything with your child and pick out three or four favorites together. Hang or display those in your child’s room or in your kitchen. If you don’t have room for display, make a folder for what you want to keep—or even use one of those old three-ring binders!

Can’t bear to get rid of your precious Picassos? Send everything to ArtKive or Plumprint and they will turn it all—including multimedia creations and sculptures—into a beautiful, coffee table art book.

Backpacks & Lunch Boxes

Empty everything, especially the gloppy grapes inside that Tupperware! Backpacks and lunchboxes should be washed and hung out to dry. Food storage containers should be washed and stored—unless they’re leaky or you can’t find the top. If it’s broken, recycle it if possible or throw it away.


If a book belongs to the school or library, make sure to return it! If your child’s books are torn or damaged, recycle them.

If they’re still good, but your child has outgrown them, you can help another child enjoy them by donating them to a teacher’s classroom, a Little Free Library, or help your child sell them to a local used bookstore. Churches, schools and shelters often welcome donations when books are in good condition.

You can also box up, print a free shipping label and donate books through Zappos for Good or Donation Town will pick up your used books and other items for you.


Once you’ve sorted everything and decided what to keep and what to throw away, come up with a storage system for the things your child can use next year.

I’ve found it helpful to put what you’re saving into a bin or basket in your child’s room. You can even tuck things back into their backpack so they’re ready for Fall!

Donate & Recycle

When you declutter, don’t forget people in need and the planet we live on! Whatever is too worn or damaged to keep, recycle. For whatever still has a second use, check with churches, daycare centers, schools, shelters and hospitals, Goodwill and Veterans of America. Not sure where to donate your used school supplies? Go to Terracycle, type in your ZIP code and what you want to donate to find a list of resources near you.

The Best Lesson

By teaching your child to clear out clutter now, you’re giving them the gift of freedom that will last them a lifetime!



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