School Supply Waste Reduction FAIL

I had such high hopes when I volunteered back in July to craft this blog post. I was confident in my  abilities and those of my spawn to dig deep into the trove of craft and school supplies we already own to find suitable matches for the required school supply lists. Sure, we’d need to get the consumables new, like notebooks and folders and dang dry erase markers, but surely we could do this without spending an arm and a leg? Without producing more trash with packaging and unneeded junk and all?

Alas, it turns out the weak link was ME!

Those sweet little souls barely made a pout as we dug deep into the overflowing tub of crayons and assorted accoutrements to find the gems we needed.  Scissors, pencil cases, and pencil sharpeners from years gone by emerged and the piles grew, destined for backpacks they’ve been rocking for several years.  We even sharpened old colored pencils into fine tips, hand crafting our own packs that included only “the best” colors and an extra black (for all that outlining). We were winning!

The more dramatic of the children clutched items to her heart as they emerged, waxing about the great memories from the “old days” of second grade. I chose not to remind her that it was actually only like 60 days earlier. I was so smug.  Reducing waste and providing these glorious, memory-making moments in the waning days of summer?  So winning.

Our trip to the store was pretty fun for the rest of the needed supplies, each kid chose one adorable, glossy folder embossed with fuzzy creatures and we stocked up on glue and pencils and the like.  Came out pretty cheap. But we also came out with a box each of crayons. Twenty-four perfect points of brand new, waxy promise.

And it bugged me.

I mean geez, we had that big box full of old crayons- ours and those donated to us from friends and family over the years, as we are always glad recipients of art junk. How could we make these usable again?

Everything was happening so fast by the end of August, shoes to buy and forms to complete. Family and work obligations started to weigh a little bit. Plus I had that blog to write for work (by this time I’d put it off for another three weeks or so). The pressure was mounting, time was waning.

Then the emails began from school, the Facebook posts of sweet, smiling first-day pics trickling in as kids across the country began school. This was happening.  Were my babies ready? Any struggles (theirs and mine) with academics or friends or the logistics of daily life during school were magically erased by a few months away!  Noooooooooooo! Don’t make me go back there! I have always loathed this transition and needed to hit my thirties before I wasn’t nauseous each Tuesday after Labor Day.

Finally, a week prior to school, the anxiety became too much to bear for this mommy. I chose to seek solace in online shopping, stealing those little bits of “reset” time in between work tasks.  It was innocent at first, merely dropping books in my online shopping cart I never intended to buy much less read, like how to run an organized home, how to maximize time, how to encourage your children to be all they can be.

Then, by some algorithm that so closely approximates God it is uncanny, it appeared: an ad for Elmer’s CrayonPro Crayon sharpener! YES!  Solving ALL MY PROBLEMS IN ONE FELL SWOOP! I could write a great blog about how we killed the reuse thing, even using OLD CRAYONS! MY KIDS WILL LOVE SHARPENING AND ALSO THIS WILL PROPEL THEM TO NEW HEIGHTS OF CONFIDENCE AND SWAGGER!  I’LL CROSS THAT DUMB BLOG OFF MY TO-DO LIST!

For a mere $50, this school year and all others to come, will be super!

And so I reduced all my efforts prior to but a puff of good intentions and spent a huge wad of cash, far surpassing the costs of another 10 years of new crayons, on a limited-use “thing” that came in the mail, in a box and in an internal package.  It alleviated my anxiety about life for about 30 seconds, after which it became clear that indeed, my worries for my littles were not alleviated, and I still had to actually write that blog at some point.

The kicker: the dang thing broke. A bit of molded plastic necessary to turn it on busted off after sharpening a mere 40 crayons.   Note that while it worked it was awesome though.

And so, another bitterly-learned lesson for me: to reduce waste on school supplies, reduce the anxiety first, in cheaper, more productive ways.  And as an epilogue on this, the third day of school: my brave and kind kiddos did so great. Of course they did, new crayons and all.