The Crayon Initiative: What Is It and How Can You Help?

What Is the Crayon Initiative?

The Crayon Initiative collects donated crayons from restaurants, schools, and homes across the country. Once collected they melt the crayons down and remanufactures them, reducing waste. Once the crayons are recycled, they are distributed to art programs at children’s hospitals across the United States. The company continually strives to accomplish two things at the same time. To reduce the amount of non-decomposing crayons and increase the happiness that children feel while they are sick and in the hospital. 

The History of the Common Crayon

The origin of the crayon is not entirely clear. The notion to combine a form of wax with pigment dates back thousands of years. Encaustic painting uses hot beeswax combined with colored pigment to bind color to a stone. A heat source was then used to "burn in" and fix the image in place. Pliny the Elder, a Roman scholar, is given credit in describing the first techniques of wax crayon drawings. Encaustic painting, which was employed by Egyptians, Romans, and the Greeks is still used today.

Today’s crayons are believed to have originated in Europe, where some of the first crayons were made using charcoal and oil. Pastels, an art medium, shares roots with the modern crayon and stems back to Leonardo da Vinci in 1495. Conté crayons, from Paris, are a hybrid between a pastel and a conventional crayon. The charcoal ingredient in pastels was eventually replaced in the early 19th century with various hues of powdered pigment. There are references to crayons in literature that dates back to 1813, as seen in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Joseph Lemercier is considered to be "the soul of lithography",  and was also one of the founders of the modern crayon.

The Crayons Initiatives Humble Beginning

“Since a young age, Bryan Ware has passionately believed in the power to express oneself through art. One evening in 2011, Bryan, his wife, and two sons were dining at a local restaurant in celebration of his 40th birthday. While the boys were coloring with crayons provided by the establishment, Bryan was struck with curiosity. “I wonder… What happens to these crayons after we leave?” he asked. Sadly, Bryan learned that many restaurants discard crayons after only one sitting, even if they are untouched. And because crayons are not environmentally friendly, they turn into a waxy sludge that clogs up landfills and never biodegrades.

Bryan took those crayons home with him that night, convinced that the life of a restaurant crayon doesn’t have to end there. It became his personal challenge to find a creative way to recirculate an endless supply of free art materials. And thus The Crayon Initiative was born. Since then, Bryan and the Ware family have proudly dedicated themselves to sorting countless crayons in their own backyard. Even cooking them down in their own kitchen, so that they could be recycled for future creative use.”

- The Crayon Initiative

How You Can Help

The Crayon Initiative outlines a few of the ways that people can get involved and help with decreasing crayon waste and increasing the happiness of sick children. 



The Crayon Initiative accepts monetary donations. They use the contributions to fund crayon remanufacturing, packaging, and distribution to children’s hospitals across the U.S. The Crayon Initiative also covers all manufacturing and shipping costs. The hospitals never see a bill for the crayons. Use the following link to donate today.

If sending money over the computer is not your style, they also provide a mailing address so you can mail your donation.

Download this form and mail to:

The Crayon Initiative

540 Glasgow Circle

Danville CA 94526

Sponsorships & Corporate Support

The Crayon Initiative is currently looking for businesses interested in sponsoring their collection programs and fundraising drives. The Crayon Initiative claims that the companies that sponsor drives will be entitled to branded advertising, newsletters, social media. In addition, they will also receive their own collection boxes. But their biggest sale is that they will provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to help local children in need.


If you are short on cash and still want to get involved consider becoming a crayon advocate. By becoming a crayon advocate you promise to volunteer in local Crayon Institute activities and delivers. You may help by volunteering at local gathering events, unloading shipments, or even working to help recycle the crayons. It is a great way to give back to your community and help children in need. 

Amazon Smile

Register with AmazonSmile, a website operated by Amazon that offers its usual product selection, but donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to a charitable organization of the customer’s choice.

To select The Crayon Initiative as your charitable organization of choice, click the button below. AmazonSmile will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at will result in a donation.

Stock & Mutual Funds-

They also suggest donating stocks, bonds and mutual funds that have been owned for more than a year. For more information on donating stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, they recommend you contact one of their brokers or mutual fund representatives.


In addition to simply donating money, The Crayon Institute also works with local groups to set up collection events. These collection events range from scouting troops to school programs, the ideas or limitless.

School Collection Programs

By organizing a collection program at a local school or education district is one of the few ways that The Crayon Initiative markets collection events. A huge plus for organizing this type of event is that it is a great way to teach children (and adults) about social awareness and responsibility. The Crayon Initiative even goes as far as providing activity ideas for the event based on age and even offers its own marketing supplies.

Restaurant Collection Programs

Seeing as how The Crayon Initiative basically started in a restaurant, it makes sense that is has partnered with restaurants from the beginning. The Crayon Initiative works with restaurants around the country to set up crayon collection boxes to ensure that used crayons can be given a second life. Instead of wastefully discarding them after one use, they melt the crayons down, remanufacture them, and ship them out to pediatric hospitals across the country. Again, The Crayon Initiative provides its own resources for marketing and shipping that are unique to restaurants.

Take it a step further and become a Crayon Advocate and ask all your local restaurants to support The Crayon Initiative. To make the process even easier, simply leave them one of The Crayon Initiatives leave-behind cards.

Community & Youth Group Collection Programs

The Crayon Initiative wants to get every local club, organization, scout troop, house of worship and chamber of commerce involved. Starting a collection drive is a fantastic way to support your community and help the less fortunate. The Crayon Initiative continues to offer marketing materials and activity plans, offering ideas for both a local community group and specifically for scouting.

At Home

Crayons can turn up just about anywhere, especially after a good housecleaning. Check your junk drawers, your storage bins, your closets, your couch cushions, your child’s old backpack… you get the idea! The Crayon Institute is willing and wanting to take any crayons you have lying around your house. Broken, used, split, it doesn't matter, they want them all. And if you're going to go through the effort to mail in a box of crayons, you might as well get your neighbors crayons as well.


To show your support make sure that you use the the hashtag #crayonadvoates whenever you are dealing with crayons. In addition to your individual efforts, companies can also get involved and assist in the annual #ShareYourColors fundraising campaign hosted every April to celebrate Earth Day. On The Crayons Initiative website, they display countless stories of people getting involved and helping to make a difference one crayon at a time. All the while inviting all of us to do our part and chip in.

The Crayon Initiative is one of many ingenious non-profit companies striving to make this world a better and cleaner place. They are a great example to all of us of how by small and simple means we can make a large impact on the world around us. Take the time to look around you and see what you can do to make a difference. Even if it is as small as donating some broken old crayons, you are still making a difference. Do you have what it takes to reach down into your couch cushions and donate the broken crayons you find?

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Tyler Farr

Tyler is an energetic nature enthusiast who is currently considering moving into a tiny house. Tyler and his wife enjoy hiking, mountain biking, camping, and doing anything in the great outdoors. He hopes that the articles he writes will help others learn how important it is to take care of the environment.

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