School kids convince Crayola to start recycling their pens

crayola markers
CC BY 2.0 stevendepolo

Like all schoolchildren, students at Sun Valley Elementary School, in San Rafael, California, just love to draw with colored markers, but hate the waste it produces. Each day, as their young imaginations would materialize on paper, it left behind a hefty pile of empty pens that they couldn't stomach throwing away.

So they strived to color the world a little greener, and we're all better off because of it.

Last year, members the school's "Green Team", made up of 1st thru 5th-graders, decided to try to reduce the environmental impact of their creative process -- by looking for a way to give those dried-up markers another life outside the landfill. Led by teacher Mr. Land Wilson, the forward-thinking youngsters made an appeal to the manufacturer of their favorite felt-tipped pens, Crayola, to convince the company to start recycling their empties.

They enlisted the public's help too, by creating an online petition devoted to their cause. The Green Team also produced this (rather adorable) video:

It didn't take long before the quest for Crayola to recycle old pens went nation-wide as some 90 thousand signatures were added in support of the student's humble quest for a cleaner planet. Even competing brands hopped on the bandwagon by offering to recycle any empty markers returned to them. Unfortunately, at the time, Crayola responded by saying they didn't have facilities in place to do the same.

But the eco-minded youngsters persisted, and now it's finally paid off. Earlier this month, Crayola finally announced a new initiative, called Colorcycle, that encourages schools to mail back their empty pens, free of charge, where they will be "transformed into clean-burning fuel."

For all their efforts, the Green Team couldn't be happier.

“Seeing the expression on the students’ faces when they heard was priceless,” Mr. Wilson said in a statement.

“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 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.”

With nothing more than a coloring marker and a blank sheet of paper, children are capable of producing some amazing things; when armed with a keen conviction and respect for our planet's future, the same is true.

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