Photo Credit: Facebook/The Crayon Initiative
Every year, up to 75,000 pounds of crayons get thrown away by restaurants and schools. When Bryan Ware found out about it, he came up with a genius way to repurpose crayons: he melts them down and recycles them into new crayons for children at hospitals.
Ware remarked “It is incredibly rewarding that our work is converting what would have been waste in the landfill into smiles on the faces of sick children.”
When going out to dinner with his two young sons in 2001, they kept themselves occupied with the crayons provided before the food came. That gave him inspiration to create what’s now a nonprofit called The Crayon Initiative.
“I started wondering what happened to restaurant crayons after children used them and our waitress told us they were thrown away. It occurred to me there had to be better use for them than sending them to landfills,” he said.
As an entrepreneur with a passion for the visual arts, Ware says he racked his brain for that higher purpose. He approached a friend who works at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, who said that crayons donated to the hospital could have “a tremendous positive impact.”
The endeavor turned out to involve more than just the delivery of crayons, he explained. The crayons had to be tailored for children who were sometimes in bed or had weak immune systems.
So, Ware said that they worked with an occupational therapist to design the crayons so that they are easy for children to hold and so they won’t roll off of beds or trays – they don’t wrap them in paper which can hold bacteria. They also have them tested to make sure bacteria from incoming crayons is killed during the processing.
To date, they’ve delivered about 2,000 packs of crayons throughout California, and aim to deliver 10,000 more packs by the end of the year.
Now, the organization is expanding and looking for donations as well as volunteers. For more information, you can head to The Crayon Initiative site here.