By Fredrica Syren:
Many times I have been to restaurants where my kids were given a box of crayons and some coloring paper. It’s usually a lifesaver to distract the kids while waiting for the food to arrive. I have to admit, though, that I never had thought about what happens to all these crayons after the guests leave — but, of course, they are being thrown away. It was a shock to me to learn that 500,000 pounds of non-biodegradable restaurant and school crayons end up in landfills every year. The problem with this is that wax from crayons will never break down. Instead. the crayons leave waxy waste in our landfills for centuries to come.
This became the concern of Danville, California, dad, Bryan Ware, who soon was inspired to take action. My first question was why can’t the crayons be reused. As it turns out, used restaurant crayons cannot be reused due to a sanitary reason: they may transport germs. However, Ware was sure there had to be a way to recycle these crayons anyway. In 2012 he founded a nonprofit organization called The Crayon Initiative that accepts donated old and used crayons. They will remanufacture them, then donate them to schools, art programs and hospitals that are caring for kids. Art is a way to help anyone deal with an illness, but it’s especially important to a child, as it might be a way for the child to communicate feelings.
The crayons get melted down in Ware’s own kitchen with the help of his two kids and wife. They then pour the melted wax into molds to make new crayons. So far, Ware and his organization have made about 10,000 crayons. More importantly, they have saved many crayons from landfills.