At the end of every school year, my kids' school supplies sit in their backpacks for a couple of months before eventually assimilating into our personal arsenal of craft supplies. By now, we have decent-sized bins of crayons, glue sticks, and markers — and probably about half of those markers are dried out and useless. And I'm willing to bet schools have the same problem, only on a much larger scale. So what's an eco-friendly-minded person to do? Well as it turns out, Crayola ColorCycle lets schools get rid of markers without just tossing them in the trash.
According to Crayola's website, Crayola ColorCycle allows students in K-12 schools in the U.S. and Canada to collect and repurpose used Crayola markers. "ColorCycle is also a great opportunity for teachers and their students to explore eco-friendly practices," the website reads. "Specially developed standards-based lesson plans are available to enrich instruction and promote lively class discussions." In order to get the program started at their child's school, interested parents are instructed to follow four simple steps:
- Talk to school administrators or the PTO about participating in the ColorCycle program.
- Collect used markers in your school and count them all up.
- Pack the markers you collected in a cardboard box and print out and attach a shipping label.
- Then get FedEx Ground to pick up the markers — Crayola pays the shipping charges, so you don't have to worry about those.
Voila! Those old, dried-out markers are repurposed into clean-burning fuel for cars and trucks. Pretty cool, huh? (Yes. The answer is yes.)
And it's not just markers that you can help avoid taking up space in a landfill. According to Earth911, there is a much better place for your binders, pens, pencils, and highlighters than the landfill as well. TerraCycle — an international up-cycling company — has partnered with Staples for in-store binder recycling. Bring in that stack of used binders from years past, and for each one you'll get a $2 credit toward the purchase of a new binder. Your old binders will be up-cycled or recycled to create new products. According to Recycle Nation, TerraCycle also has a program called the Writing Instruments Brigade, in which pens, mechanical pencils, highlighters, and more are turned into plastic storage containers.
As far as crayons are concerned, there's also a program for recycling this school supply staple. The Crayon Initiative collects donated crayons from schools, restaurants, and homes, melts them, and then remanufactures them. Not only does this reduce waste, but the recycled crayons are used in art programs at children's hospitals across the nation.
So yeah. If you're as mesmerized by Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix as the rest of the country seems to be — and that mountain of old school supplies no longer "sparks joy" for you or your family — go ahead and turn all of that junk into something useful. (Plus, who really needs a bin filled with dried-out markers anyway? So annoying!) And while you're at it, get your child's school on board with Crayola ColorCycle. Because honestly, in this day and age the environment needs all the help it can get.