Every year, up to 75,000 pounds of broken crayons are thrown away and wind up in landfills across the country. This number is concerning as crayon wax isn’t biodegradable, so it will never break down. Instead, it will leave a waxy sludge in our landfills for generations to come.
One dad in San Francisco, Bryan Ware, has come up with a solution that not only benefits our environment, but benefits hospitals as well. In 2011, Ware founded The Crayon Initiative, an organization that takes crayon waste from restaurants, melts them down and recycles them into new crayons for children at hospitals.
The idea came to Ware when he was celebrating his birthday with his family at a restaurant. When the waiter provided his sons with some crayons to occupy them at the table, Ware pondered what would happen to the crayons after they left. The answer was they wound up in the landfill.
By collecting unwanted crayons from restaurants, schools, as well as other locations, and recycling them into new ones, The Crayon Initiative is doing our part to prevent crayons from depositing in the landfill.
After collecting broken and used crayons from restaurants, The Crayon Initiative melts them down and pours them into custom-made molds. The molds create crayons that are thicker and easier to hold for young kids and children that have special needs.
Presently these crayons are delivered to hospitals in California. During a hospital stay, it is critical for kids to continue normal childhood development and skills building in order to keep life as close to “normal” as possible for them. Art can help hospitalized children by alleviating anxiety, providing psychological support and offering creative outlets for self-expression.
In addition, children’s art programs can also enhance problem-solving and critical thinking skills, as well as promote creativity and imagination. By using their creative skills, children can escape into a world of fantasy and imagination with a simple box of crayons.
“If these crayons give them an escape from that hospital room for ten minutes, we did our job,” said Bryan Ware.
In addition to helping hospitalized children, The Crayon Initiative also wants to contribute to school art programs. When they’re up and running, their school programs will act as a way for young students to help their peers and support arts programs at the same time.
What happens to broken crayons in your home?
Feature image courtesy of Rick Payette