Yeah, my kids don’t even go to school. We homeschool, and yet you’ll still find me trolling the aisles at Wal-mart in the middle of every summer, elbowing aside all those families with their school lists as I stock up on 15-cent folders and 75-cent binders and 25-cent packs of crayons.
The fact is, of course, that you don’t need all that crap. You especially don’t need the super-expensive licensed-character pencils and folders and notebooks, and yes, you can still use last years’ binders, even if they’re a little beat up this year and have the wrong boy band written on them in permanent marker.
Crafting your own personalized school supplies D.I.Y. style is economical, allowing you to make some very uncool stuff look very cool using your own two hands and some stash materials. It’s also an eco-friendly practice, encouraging you to reuse and recycle what you already have on hand instead of buying new. Here are five awesome projects to get you started:
- Brown paper bag book cover. Or you can use wrapping paper, or gift bags, or newspaper, or maps–you get the idea. No matter what materials you use, you’re turning a grotty old binder or a beaten-up secondhand book into a personalized masterpiece.
- Personalized hand sanitizer. Some schools require that the kiddos bring their own hand sanitizer. If you make your own sanitizer, you may not want to send your kids to school with their homemade sanitizer in some boring, plain, repurposed dispenser that screams, “Hey, my parent makes homemade hand sanitizer! Kick me!” Instead, send your kids to school with awesomely decorated repurposed dispensers that scream, “My parents let me put stickers all over stuff!”
- Decoupage pencils. With a little Mod Podge and a few magazine photos, you can turn those tacky old Britney Spears pencils into…Hannah Montana? The Pixies? David Wax Museum? You decide.
- Reusable snack bag. While not a school supply per se, it’s often nice and often necessary, to bring a snack or lunch to school. What to do if you don’t want to brown paper bag it or buy a plastic lunchbox? Make your own lunchbags, of course, out of whatever kind of fabric that you want!
- Oilcloth backpack. Sure, oilcloth doesn’t come in quite the variety of colors and patterns as your average Jansport, but it’s wipeable! For more variety, sub in PUL, which is getting pretty popular among you non-cloth diaperers out there (we cloth diaper users have been putting PUL on our babies’ butts for a while now).