I have a confession to make. I do not buy my kids new backpacks every year, or lunchboxes, or pencil boxes. Don't get me wrong, I totally get caught up in the displays for back to school. I love a 25 cent box of crayons as much as the next gal, but a few years I learned to resist the temptation.
#1 is in sixth grade.
I buy good stuff from good companies and it lasts. I shop the sales and use a coupon, but mostly I do spend a little more and expect to get a couple of years out of it. No one, except #4, got a backpack. Only #3 got a lunch pail. Hers fell apart after 2 years, but #2's lunch pail is on year 3 and #1 has had his stuff for 2. They know we clean the stuff up at the end of the year and evaluate it. If it is good, we will reuse. If it is not, we wait until back to school sales and buy new.
#2 and #3 in third and second grades.
It just seemed so wasteful to get a new everything just because, so we don't. My kids haven't minded and actually appreciate the new stuff a little more (I think.)