Going out to eat with young children isn't always the easiest thing to do. Getting them to sit still before the food comes out is problem enough, and then keeping them occupied with their food while everyone's just trying to enjoy their meal is another Herculean task entirely. Thankfully, many eateries have a nifty little trick to make sure the kiddos have something to do while you ponder what your order will be: crayons.
Depending on how artistically inclined the kiddos are, their time filling in the blank drawings on the back of their children's menu could range from a few seconds to a few minutes, but even so, every little tyke who walks into the restaurant gets their own small pack of crayons.
What you may not know, however, is that every one of those crayons won't see the light of day again, usually.
That's right, the crayons are tossed out, mostly for hygiene purposes, plus it just doesn't look right handing a new guest some spaghetti or honey mustard crusted used crayons from previous eaters.
This was news to father and entrepreneur Bryan Ware who, while eating out with his family one night, wondered just what happened to the crayons that they gave to the tons of kiddos dining there each and every day.
When he learned about their fate, he was shocked to hear that they were not only tossed out but that they turn into a "waxy sludge that never biodegrades and clogs up landfills." The more that Bryan looked into the matter, the more he learned that the ecological impact of crayons was pretty severe: more than 500,000 pounds of crayons were tossed each and every day, which equates to approximately 60 million crayons.
That's when he decided to launch The Crayon Initiative, an organization that collects crayons slated to be tossed from restaurants, schools, and homes from all across America. The group then melts all of these crayons down and molds them back into new crayons that are fatter and easier to grip for young children and those with special needs.
The Crayon Initiative then delivers the re-processed and repackaged crayons to Children's hospitals all over America, and they're constantly building new partnerships.
Being a volunteer for The Crayon Initiative is easy, and there are tons of schools that encourage their students to bring in their broken or unused crayons to donate to the organization.
Social media's packed with photos of happy students who are either on the giving or receiving end of the Crayon Initiative's good work. Some student groups get a bit more involved than others: as they actually participate in the crayon recycling process and help to boil the recyclable crayons together, mold them, and repackage them for kids all across the country.
If you're interested in getting your workplace, school, or community group to help volunteer for The Crayon Initiative, then you can learn more on the organization's website here.