Recycled crayon business embodies Earth Day message
April 15, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Local mom Regan Wong found a nifty way to repurpose the contents of that long forgotten box, tucked away in a closet, filled to the brim with broken, sometimes wrapperless crayons.
The vibrant coloring tools undoubtedly lived a life of usefulness at one point, but rather than letting them sit on a shelf reminiscing about the good old days of elementary school, or letting them rot in a landfill, Wong is turning them in to something environmentally friendly and beautiful.
Wacky Crayons takes used crayons, melts them down and, using food-grade molds, crafts new, multicolored drawing tools in various shapes and sizes.
“We didn’t invent this, but we’re sort of perfecting it along the way,” Wong said.
Wacky Crayons offers more than 200 shapes, including hearts, butterflies, peace signs and even a Millennium Falcon. If you can find the shape in a silicon mold, they can make it. Wong can fulfill customized orders, too.
Wong takes her wares to craft fairs in the area, where children are always confused when they first see a dinosaur-shaped crayon, for example, she said.
“Once they get them in their hands and they start coloring, though, they see all the colors that are created just by striking the paper,” she said. “That’s the most encouraging part. In fact, it’s greater than the sale, to see them discover that it’s a crayon.”
It’s unconventional, sure, drawing with a Star Wars spaceship, but it brings out a heightened fun and creativity within kids, Wong said.
Wacky Crayons was born about five years ago, when Wong’s son saw a snowman mold and wanted to try melting crayons into the shape. It’s become quite the family affair since, Wong said.
The crayons are made south of Issaquah in the family’s garage, remodeled to accommodate an increased workload after the kitchen became too small. All four of her children and her husband help with the venture.
Her older children, both Liberty High School graduates, help with marketing and creating custom coloring books. The younger two, students at Briarwood Elementary School, get their hands dirty in helping craft the crayons.
Elementary schools in the Issaquah and Renton school districts donate crayons to Wong, but anyone with spare crayons is welcome to. She only uses nontoxic, American-made crayons that conform to arts and crafts standards.
The family goes through the crayons and sorts them, checking for that qualification. If the family can’t confirm the crayon’s origin, or they find it wasn’t made in the country, they donate the leftovers to arts-and-crafts charities.
The recycled product, complete with biodegradable and fully compostable packaging, was a perfect fit for Issaquah’s Recology CleanScapes store, which started selling Wacky Crayons in December.
“They’re great for Easter baskets, Christmas stockings, birthday party favors. I mean, we don’t need one more plastic toy in our house, right? So, we try to promote things that are reusable,” said Brenda DeVore, the store’s retail manager.
The Gilman Village store offers products that encourage waste reduction by replacing disposable items with reusable ones, promoting recycled and recyclable products, and embracing reuse through unique, “upcycled” goods.
Throughout the month of April, and in honor of Earth Day, DeVore is asking the community to bring donations of crayons to the store. Every family that brings as many or as few crayons as they can, will receive a free peace sign-shaped Wacky Crayon as thanks.
Earth Day is officially April 22, but many local organizations are celebrating the holiday all month long. Here are a few local events to get you thinking green.
Learn more about Wacky Crayons at www.wackycrayons.com.
Issaquah Farmers Market opening day: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pickering Barn, 1730 10th Ave. N.W. It will also include an Earth Day celebration. Some participating organizations include the Cascade Bicycle Club, Seattle Tilth, Issaquah Garden Club and Recology CleanScapes.
The city of Issaquah, in coordination with the Issaquah Highlands Council and Recology CleanScapes, will show the documentary “Trashed” at Blakely Hall, 2550 N.E. Park Drive. The film shows the true extent of the global trash crisis. There are two free screenings at 1 and 7 p.m. Children younger than 13 are not recommended, due to disturbing subject matter.
- The Downtown Issaquah Association’s citywide Keep Issaquah Beautiful Day: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check in at the Hailstone Feed Store on Front Street. Contact Karen Donovan at email@example.com or 391-1112 for more information.
- Join the city to help plant trees along Issaquah Creek and Pickering Trail in honor of Arbor Day. Tools will be provided for volunteers. Check in at the information booth near the Pickering Trail entrance, by Pickering Barn, between 9 and 11 a.m. Planting is from 11 a.m. to noon.
- The Cougar Mountain Zoological Park, 19525 S.E. 54th St., will celebrate Earth Day with special activities and educational opportunities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a bee expert, a gardening specialist and a chance to make organic fertilizer.
Recology CleanScapes will host a conscious consumption workshop from 7-8:30 p.m. at its store, 317 N.W. Gilman Blvd., Suite 22. Learn practical ways to reduce waste.
- Recology CleanScapes, in partnership with InterConnection, encourages locals to recycle their electronics. The Issaquah Recology CleanScapes store is a free drop-off location for used desktops, laptops, tablets, cellphones and LCD monitors. All donations are tax-deductible, and hard drives go through complete data-destruction procedures. Donated technology will be used to support InterConnection’s technology access programs.
- The store will also host an art show on its walls, featuring pieces made by Issaquah Middle School students, through April 22. Students were tasked with creating artwork from reusable materials.