It's easy to forget our daily lives are filled with opportunities to reduce waste. Even something as small as a crayon can be the inspiration for recycling and producing a more sustainable future. Learn about how one man's encounter with a few restaurant crayons led to the establishment of an organization dedicated to improving his community.
When Bryan and his family enjoyed the occasional night out, his kids would eagerly draw and color on the kids' menus, using the complimentary crayons that the restaurant provided. They never took any of these crayons with them. During one of their nights out Bryan asked his wife what happened to the crayons after they left.
Bryan learned that the crayons would end up being thrown away. The image of those crayons in the trash stayed with him. So, at home, he started doing some research. He soon found out that restaurants and schools were guilty of a huge amount of waste. They were filling landfills with over half a million pounds of non-biodegradable crayons every year.
Bryan couldn't stand hearing about how much waste was being produced. He thought of the many children, especially those who were disadvantaged or sick, who would've loved to have a set of crayons. And he thought of the hundreds of thousands of pounds of crayons that were going unused and into the landfills.
Finally, Bryan decided to act. He asked local restaurants for the leftover crayons they were tossing out. He collected all of the crayons into bins with the intent to repackage them. But then he came up with a better idea: he would melt all of the crayons and make new ones.
With bins and bins of used crayons, Bryan had a huge supply to work with. In 2011 he turned his kitchen into an impromptu crayon-making factory, heating up and melting down crayons in big pots. There was enough wax to produce about 4,000 new crayons every day, which he poured into makeshift molds.
Photos of the newly recycled crayons made their way to Pinterest. People loved seeing the arts-and-crafts nature of this good deed. They enjoyed seeing him making a difference and inspiring others to do the same. He was promoting his love of the environment while eliminating waste and promoting sustainability.
Bryan's humble project soon blossomed into a full-on mission. As he continued to melt down and create crayons, he named his new organization "The Crayon Initiative." It now recycled thousands of crayons from restaurants and schools and donated the new crayons to children and need, especially those at nearby hospitals.
The popularity of The Crayon Initiative rapidly spread. People everywhere wanted to help out and donated their crayons. Children, nationwide restaurant chains, and dozens of volunteers pitched in to sort and prep thousands of crayons to be recycled. The new crayons were distributed to art programs at children's hospitals. It was a community effort that connected people from all walks of life.
The Crayon Initiative arose from one man's vision of a better, more sustainable planet, and continues to serve communities around the U.S. Nearly 17 million crayons have been collected and recycled. The new crayons have been donated to over 86,000 hospital patients. Our landfills now contain less waste, but more importantly, these new crayons have provided immeasurable joy to those who need it the most. To learn how you can get involved, visit The Crayon Initiative website.