01/11/2014 10:40 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

So, Those School Supplies You've Hoarded Since Fifth Grade Can Be Recycled After All

Cindy Schultz/Flickr Creative Commons

From Earth911's Maria Carter:

Winter marks the halfway point in the school year — the perfect time to de-clutter cubbies and clean out lockers.

But all those dried-out markers, empty glue sticks and dog-eared books need not end up in landfills. Companies like Crayola, Elmer’s Glue, Staples and more offer recycling programs to give battered backpack dwellers a second life.

Here’s how to recycle some common school supplies:

  • Binders
    International upcycling company TerraCycle has partnered with office supply giant Staples to offer in-store binder recycling. For every used binder you bring in, you’ll receive a $2 credit toward the purchase of a new binder. Old binders are then upcycled or recycled for use in the creation of various new products.
    (Photo by Enokson/Flickr Creative Commons)
  • Pens, Pencils And Highlighters
    Fill a bag of empty writing utensils and click over to the Writing Instruments Brigade for a prepaid shipping label. Another TerraCycle initiative, this one in conjunction with PaperMate and Sharpie, the program turns old penning tools into products like plastic storage bins.
    (Photo by Maureen McLaughlin/Flickr Creative Commons)
  • Markers
    Everyone’s favorite art supply becomes liquid fuel for cars via Crayola’s ColorCycle program, available to schools across the continental United States and parts of Canada. The art supply company provides prepaid shipping labels to send used markers to a conversion facility.
    (Photo by Christopher Rodriguez/Flickr Creative Commons)
  • Used Textbooks And Novels
    Leave them at your nearest BetterWorld Books drop box. The organization has reused or recycled more than 117 million books to date and raised in excess of $15 million for libraries and nonprofit literacy organizations around the world.
    (Photo by Gwen Harlow/Flickr Creative Commons)
  • Glue
    Classrooms participating in Elmer’s Glue Crew collect empty glue sticks and bottles big and small throughout the year, saving enough to fill up a box, then send the empties to a recycling center using free downloadable shipping labels. There, old glue holders are transformed into new products like plastic bins.
    (Photo by Chelsea Gomez (Oakes)/Flickr Creative Commons)
  • Empty Ink Cartridges And Small Electronics
    Schools can sign up for free recycling with Office Depot at MySchoolRecycles.com. Teachers and students send in the ink and toner empties (free shipping!), and the supply company rewards them with a gift card for the value, for use in store and online.
    (Photo by Matthew Stones/Flickr Creative Commons)