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Saying Goodbye to Back-to-School Shopping

Brightly colored string, an empty cereal box, a thick stack of scrap paper, and a little creativity - and you have your own personalized notebook for school, work, or home.

As August rolls around, many parents head out to various school and office supply stores for notebooks, pencils, pens, binders and the like for their kids or themselves. But why buy it when you can make it yourself, save a little money, and entertain yourself or the whole family!

Every little piece of scrap paper, construction paper, and one sided print-outs that I no longer need end up getting stashed in my arts and crafts cabinet alongside various markers, crayons, fancy colorful writing implements, and other miscellaneous odds and ends (glitter, sequins, string, key rings, pipe cleaners, stickers... you name it). Why do I keep it all? Because I hate throwing things away that could potentially be used for various crafty projects. I like to practice waste reduction and reuse in the most creative way possible --by making notebooks, planners, folders, and photo books.

two key rings hold together two pieces of thin cardboard that were probably left over from an old notebook, and between the pieces of cardboard are pieces of old stock paper that I found lying around my house. With a ruler and a few brightly colored markers, I drew in lines on each page to separate the days of the week. On the cover of my planner are two small bumper stickers that I thought would be more appreciated if placed in a location where I could admire them.

In addition to my home-made planner, I have a note pad on my desk at work of scrap paper that I simply stapled together. Lots of offices now have a bin of one sided paper, and if yours does not- start one! If you were thinking of buying a notepad for your office notes, just grab a handful of the one-sided paper, punch some holes in it, or staple it, and you’re all set!

Other DIY school supply suggestions:

- Cut out the front and back of the box of your child's favorite cereal, stick some recyled paper in between, bind, and you have a totally green-- and totally stylin'--notebook

- Instead of buying new year after year, find a used binder around the house. With some markers and stickers, old office supplies can quickly be made colorful and exciting for back-to-school

- Before you load up on #2 pencils and blue ballpoint pens, have a family-wide scavenger hunt to find the writing tools already in your home. If your house is anything like mine, you'll be shocked at not only how many pens you have around, but also at the crazy places in which they're hiding!

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Annie Maynard is a Responsible Purchasing Network Intern and New Dream's resident DIY guru

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