Elementary School Kids Succeed in Crayola Recycling

Elementary school students succeed in petitioning Crayola to create a marker recycling program. 

By Margaret Hylas

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At the urging of determined students from Sun Valley Elementary School in California, Crayola announced plans for the “ColorCycle” recycling program. The students petitioned for Crayola to “make its mark” on the environment, gathering over 90,000 signatures on a Change.org petition. Now the craft manufacturer will accept used markers and convert them into liquid fuel sources.

“I want to let you know that I am not a useless little kid. I can make a difference! By telling you to recycle your pens," Dante, age 10.

He was one of 40 students who decided during a Green Team after school meeting that they wanted to positively impact the world and do it through the company they love, Crayola.

“I love your product, but hate pollution," said Zachary, age 9. He was referring to the massive waste problems of disposable plastics. Plastic waste can enter the ocean, become weathered and eventually enter the food chain, harming humans. The students were determined to stop millions of markers that they love from turning into waste every year.

Initially Crayola acknowledged the children’s good intentions, but were not able to pose a feasible solution to the problem.

Crayola spokesperson, Stacy Gabriel told msnbc.com, “We value and encourage children to share their ideas and appreciate the suggestion that the students of Sun Valley brought to our attention.”

Marker recycling is problematic because only the cap is fully recyclable. The ink portion in the full marker must be removed before collection, which creates safety hazards for children because of the loose pieces.

The Sun Valley Students were not satisfied. They created a Change.org petition “asking Crayola to make sure these markers don't end up in our landfills, incinerators and oceans.” The petition attracted over 90,000 followers and the attention of media outlets like MSNBC and the Associated Press. Crayola listened and created the Colorcycle Program, which will facilitate the conversion of old markers into energy sources.

Green team adviser and parent, Land Wilson, said, “Seeing the expression on the students’ faces when they heard was priceless--A year ago, they asked a company they love to step up and do the right thing.  What’s happened since has reached beyond what we imagined possible: thousands of signatures on their Change.org petition, major media coverage,  endorsements, all because a small group of elementary school students from San Rafael asked them to help make the world a healthier, safer place.”

The hype from the Crayola campaign spread to other parts of the crafts manufacturing industry and the Dixon Ticonderoga Company, Crayola competitor, decided to initiate their own recycling program.

“I am really excited! We’ve been waiting for a year and we’re happy it is finally happening. Keep up the good work, Crayola and Dixon!” -Zachary Snyder, age 9.

The Crayola Campaign:

http://www.change.org/crayola

 Associated Press coverage:

http://bigstory.ap.org/content/school-kids-urge-crayola-rethink-recycling-0

NBC coverage of the campaign:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/05/17/11744153-green-team-kids-urge-crayola-to-recycle-plastic-markers