By Dawna Matthews:
If youʼre like me and have a young child, you probably have an assortment of art supplies. We have buckets of paint, crayons, markers, yarn, glue, and more. These supplies do get lovingly used, depleted, and eventually get so worn down they are difficult to use. I sat in our craft area and started filtering through our crayons, placing them in piles of “too short to use,” “needs sharpening,” and “still working.”
What do you do with the little nubs of dull crayons and dried markers? Approximately 12 million crayons are produced every day (just by Crayola). Most commercial crayons are made from paraffin wax and can take up to 25 years to naturally biodegrade. Millions of crayons and markers are thrown away with the trash, and bucketfuls are in landfills everywhere. I try to recycle or donate any items that we can from our home because I donʼt want to throw anything away unless I have no option. I began some sleuthing into what options there are for all these crayons and markers. It turns out there are several options.
Recycling is something easy to do with crayons. I found a super cute way to recycle crayons and have fun with Chloe. This project is great as a gift for other kids, teachers, or just to use at home.
1- Break up the crayons into smaller chunks. Kids like to do this part.
2- Place the broken pieces, in whatever combination you choose, into a muffin tin, mini cake tin, or silicon ice tray. (I like stars and heart shapes). Mix and match colors or keep one color scheme profile.
3- Bake in a 250 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until crayons are melted. Carefully remove from oven taking care not to spill.
4- Place the trays into the freezer and pop out after 30 minutes or so. Voila- new crayons!
How many times have you tried to use a marker only to discover itʼs dry? More than you like, I imagine. This happened to me at the library the other day when decorating Chloeʼs summer reading program bag. The librarian told me you can renew markers by soaking them in water or dipping them into vinegar. She said that the water the marker soaked in can be used as “watercolor” paint. I found instructions here: http://craftingagreenworld.com/ 2012/09/18/how-to-diy-liquid-watercolors-from-upcycled-dried-out-markers/
There is a national recycling program that accepts unwanted crayons which otherwise may end up in the landfill. So far, they have stopped more than 94,000 pounds of crayons from ending up in the trash. These crayons are then recycled and made into new crayons for future use. I personally value not only that they recycle and make the crayons useable again, but also that they employ people with disabilities, and provide environmental education to the community. For full details on this program, visit: http:// crazycrayons.com/recycle_program.html
Another recycling program especially for markers is the Writing Instruments Brigade through Terracycle. Simply gather markers of all kinds, highlighters and pens, and send them to Terracycle. They then recycle them and make them into new products. Check out their website: http://www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades/writing-instruments- brigade-r/
Lastly, you can make a cool piece of art or a showpiece for your childʼs favorite teacher or grandparent. You can make candles, picture frames, melted crayon art (my favorite), “stained glass” cards, and more. All of these projects are colorful (naturally) and a bring a smile to everyoneʼs face. Search the bookstore or internet on how to make these surprisingly simple and joyful gifts.
I am so relieved and inspired, knowing I can do something with all these well worn art supplies. There is something for everyone – whether you like to craft or want to donate. At the end, it all helps make the environment a little greener and more colorful!