Did you know that between 45,000 and 75,000 pounds of crayons head for the landfill each year? Compared to other waste streams, that’s relatively minor… but all of those broken and used crayons represent embedded energy and resources that will languish in a dump. So, I was intrigued when I came across The Crayon Initiative, which collects used crayons from family-friendly restaurants, recycles them, and distributes them to kids in hospitals. Take a look at the video from Buzzfeed above for a short overview.
Our friend Julie Finn at Crafting a Green World dug into this organization last week; I’ve republished her post below so you can learn a bit more about The Crayon Initiative.
Know of other groups addressing crayon waste? Tell us about them in the comments…
Upcycle Crayons into a Good Cause with the Crayon Initiative
There are lots of ways to upcycle crayons. What makes The Crayon Initiative stand out is its scale and its mission.
If you’ve ever gone into a restaurant with a kid, then you’ve seen restaurant crayons. Those and those blessed coloring menus have saved my dinner more than once.
But did you ever wonder what happens to those restaurant crayons when your meal is done?
One guy did, and the answer that he got is changing lives.
It turns out that restaurants were simply trashing all those unused or barely used crayons, consigning them to an eternity in a landfill somewhere. But Bryan Ware, founder of The Crayon Initiative, has been upcycling crayons to a better use since 2011. Now, The Crayon Initiative accepts donations of restaurant crayons; they melt the crayons down, remold them into brand-new crayons, put them into lovely packaging, and donate them on to hospitalized children.
Everyone knows that coloring is great. It’s relaxing, it’s creative, and for a kid, especially, it’s educational, allowing them to build their brains and their small-motor skills at the same time. And most importantly for kids in a hospital?
It’s normal. Routine. A kid with a crayon in her hand is a kid being a kid.
Want to help kids be kids, no matter where they are? Check out The Crayon Initiative’s restaurant recycling program, and help get it set up in your local restaurants. Similar programs for school and youth groups are coming soon, and I’ll let you know when that happens, because my Girl Scout troop is going to be all over it!
If you’d like to upcycle crayons on your own, for friends or family or to donate, yourself, you should know that it is a super easy project! Here are some tutorials that will get you started:
- how to upcycle crayons. This is the best beginner’s how-to, to make sure that you get the pigment all nice and mixed in and don’t end up with that clear waxy top on all of your crayons.
- how to make layered crayons. These crayons are a little trickier to make, but they’re way fancier and kids love the novelty of them.
Photo credit: The Crayon Initiative