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Recycling Crayons and Old Art Supplies

By: Molly Schwichtenberg

Creating beautiful works of art with crayons and other art supplies is fun for kids of all ages. It's important, though, to be responsible when you're using art supplies. Recycling, reducing, and reusing supplies is a great way to protect the environment and help the planet stay clean and healthy. When most people think of recycling, crayons don't usually come to mind, but they can be recycled just like other things. Finding new and smart ways to use or get rid of your old art supplies, including recycling them, reusing them in new projects, and reducing the amount of supplies needed for your art, can keep our planet clean.

There are lots of reasons why you might want to get rid of your old crayons: They could be broken, old, or almost used up, or you might just really want a fresh, new box! But don't throw old crayons in the trash: They can be recycled instead. Lots of companies and group will take your old crayons so that they can be recycled into new ones. Get an adult to help you collect, package, and ship your old crayons so that they'll find a new home and purpose. If you're interested in sending your crayons to a recycling center, make sure that you only donate products that were made in America; crayons that were made in other countries might contain ingredients and pollutants that can make the recycling process harder.

You could also make a difference in your community by donating your crayons to other kids. One of the easiest ways to recycle your crayons is to give them to friends or other kids who need them. If you share your crayons with others, their new owners can save the money that they would've had to spend on a new box. It's also a great way to make sure that every inch of your old crayons will be used. Sometimes, other kids in your class might need to replace one or two of theirs that have broken or gotten used up, so you could ask around and give yours away until you run out.

If you have old art supplies like markers, paints, and pencils, you can find new ways to use them, too. For example, you can create watercolors out of old markers by soaking each color in a cup of water. If you have dried-up paints, add drops of water to water-based and acrylic paints and clear rubbing alcohol to oil-based paints to make them usable again. Only use small amounts of paint at a time, so you don't waste it, and wash your brushes right after using them so that they'll last longer. You might also be able to find creative ways to recycle your colored pencils, like using their wood to make pretty jewelry or their erasers to create stamps! Ask your parents about recycling art supplies at home to see how they can help. For instance, some kids and their parents melt old crayons in their ovens to create new ones with fun shapes.

Get creative when you reduce and reuse. Look for art projects that specifically call for using recycled materials, such as scraps of paper or marker caps. If you can't find an art project that uses your scrap materials, consider creating a new sculpture! Turn old drawings into papier-mâché, or making something out of clay, which you can remold again and again.

Keep doing your part to protect the planet by choosing and using the right art supplies in the future. Since art supplies can be hard to throw away and recycle, more art supply companies are making them with the environment in mind. The next time you need to buy art supplies, look on the packages to make sure that they are environmentally friendly or are made with "green" materials and practices. Remember that you can also save paper by using the back sides of sheets to draw a new picture or paint over an old canvas to create a new masterpiece without having to buy another canvas.

Visit the following links to find more information on recycling crayons and art supplies: