Bryan Ware has always had a fascination for the arts.

Drawing, drafting, architecture, woodshop, photography – if it had to do with art, Ware wanted to be a part of it.

Ultimately, art became a part of him, and is what helped him get through school.

And because art gave him so much, Ware wanted to give back to it.

In 2013, Ware founded The Crayon Initiative (TCI), a nonprofit organization in Northern California that collects used and unwanted crayons, remanufactures them and then donates them to hospitals, schools, art programs and other organizations benefiting children.

Recycling Crayons Into Unlimited Possibilities

Crayon collection bin

Image Credit: The Crayon Initiative

The idea for TCI stemmed from a dinner at a local restaurant Ware was having with his family for his 40th birthday.

As his two young boys were coloring away, Ware wondered what happens to the crayons that are left on the table when people leave.

He asked their server and was taken aback when he found out that any crayons put on the table, whether slightly used or not even touched, had to be thrown away and eventually ended up in a landfill. Over 500,000 pounds of broken crayons are discarded in landfills throughout the country annually.

So, Ware took those crayons home and did some research into what, if anything, was being done to prevent crayons from entering the landfill.

“Someone has to be able to recycle these into something,” he said. “I couldn’t find anything.”

Turns out, the idea was literally in his hand.

Bringing the Arts to Children Everywhere

By turning old crayons into new ones, Ware not only knew he would be doing the environment some good, but he would be giving children the freedom to be creative and express themselves through art.

Bryan Ware“The art side is what was critical to me. It was about giving a child a voice to express themselves, tell other people how they’re feeling, or provide an escape from what they’re going through. It’s that base product that people know how to use.”

Bryan Ware I Founder and President

Most of the crayons TCI collects come through the U.S. Postal Service. TCI weighs the crayons to report what it keeps out of the landfill. Once the crayons are sorted by color, the wax is melted down and formed into new crayons.

Crayon Melting

Image Credit: The Crayon Initiative

Each box TCI makes comes with eight crayons that are shipped all over. And pretty soon, AC Moore Arts and Crafts, which has 150-plus locations throughout the East Coast.

The crayons are triangular-shaped for holding purposes, and the flatter sides prevent them from rolling off hospital beds.

“The kids love it,” Ware said. “Every kid wants a box of crayons. On the opposite side, I have parents calling me saying this is awesome. They’re telling me about their kids’ projects.”

Furthermore, art helps hospitalized children by alleviating anxiety, providing psychological support and offering creative outlets for self-expression.

For Ware, that’s what it’s all about.

“To me, it’s still going to the hospital and seeing their eyes light up. That’s the most exciting part,” he said.

Budget Dumpster is your community-focused source for a dumpster rental in Oakland. This article is part of a series spotlighting organizations that are making a difference in the communities we serve. If you know of another great organization, let us know in the comments!