affordable repurposing

Guest post by Brittany Coleman, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT)

Instead of turning to affordable repurposing, many teachers and after-school providers spend hundreds of dollars of their own money each month on school supplies and activities for learning. But little do they know that the average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day.

Where does this waste go? According to Duke University’s Center for Sustainability and Commerce, “Approximately 55% of 220 million tons of waste generated each year in the United States ends up in one of the over 3,500 landfills.”

Educators in the United States can and should take advantage of affordable repurposing by recycling  or reusing their own trash. And we don’t mean to literally just put your cardboard, paper, and plastic in their designated recycling bins (which is good too!). But as a school teacher or educator, go through your own recycling bins and see that materials you can bring to life in your classroom!

Affordable Repurposing 4 Ways

affordable repurposing

1. Cardboard cylinders and containers: How many boxes of oatmeal did you buy for your family this year? If you kept all of those boxes for 6 months, you might find that you have quite a big stack of those handy containers! Use these in the classroom to teach design and engineering (build houses or castles, use as foundational supports to a structure, or use as wheels to make something “go”).

affordable repurposing

2. Is your Uncle Henry addicted to burning CDs of all his favorite music and handing them out to friends and family at Christmas? We bet he goes through a lot of those nifty CD holders the CDs come in. These plastic cylinders are perfect for Early Education tactile activities. They can be painted, covered in Play-Doh®, used as sand scoopers, and the long stem on the inside can even double as  a faux jewelry stand (something fun to hang all those macaroni necklaces on!)

affordable repurposing

3. Paper towels are a must, both inside the classroom and at home. We know where the used towels are going, but what about the cardboard cylinders they come off of? Don’t throw these in the cardboard bin! Instead, store them in a cool, dry place (moisture will make these soggy), and use them in the classroom as part of art projects. Anything from painted dolls and spaceships, to cars and kaleidoscopes can be created from these!

affordable repurposing

4. Fabric can be used with any grade range. And even if you’re not someone who sews, chances are you have a family member or friend who does, and they would be very grateful if you offered to take their fabric scraps off their hands. Fabric can be used for classroom artwork, fun upholstering projects, measuring in math,  color theory, and other affordable repurposing projects!

If you’re having trouble finding materials to reuse for affordable repurposing (because you recycled all your own!) and are located in the Bay Area or in Denver, Colorado, please visit Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT). RAFT was created on a simple yet powerful idea: students learn best when they are engaged and are part of the learning process. RAFT supports this mission wholeheartedly by supplying teachers with recycled and environmentally friendly supplies that can be found in RAFT educational kits or purchased in bulk quantities for a wide variety of inspiring educational projects.

RAFT diverts roughly 400 cubic feet of materials from landfills every day. We believe in creating a more sustainable world and a healthier environment by keeping our landfills free of perfectly useable materials.

Sources: Duke University – Center for Sustainability and Commerce

To learn more about Resource Area for Teaching, headquartered in San Jose, California please visit or visit our online store here.


About Brittany Coleman: Brittany’s favorite school memories are the ones of story time in her elementary school’s library, and of getting to choose a book to take back to class and read on her own. Brittany’s love of words progressed through high school where she joined the Newspaper class and later earned a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She still immensely enjoys words today and tries to read at least two books per month.