March 31 is National Crayon Day and the Crayon Collection, a national initiative that collects repurposed crayons from restaurants across the country, and the National Head Start Association (NHSA) have formed a partnership that will bring crayons into thousands of Head Start classrooms.
Founded in 2011 by philanthropist and southern California mom, Sheila Michail Morovati, the Crayon Collection’s mission is simple: To collect as many crayons as possible and donate them to kids in need.
“Restaurants throw away millions of crayons each year,” said NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. “NHSA and the Crayon Collection will help keep crayons out of landfills and put them in the hands of vulnerable children,”
Billions of crayons are produced in the U.S. each year and many of them end up in landfills, taking years to decompose, according to the Crayon Collection. Meanwhile, teachers in public schools spend an average of $750 of their own money for classroom supplies each year. Partnering with popular restaurant chains — including California Pizza Kitchen, Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks and other national chains to — the Crayon Collection collects millions of crayons and redistributes them to schools in low-income neighborhoods.
To learn more, including how you can help collect crayons, visit the Crayon Collection website.
Fun crayon facts
In honor of National Crayon Day, here are some fun crayon facts compiled by the Crayon Collection.
- The world’s biggest manufacturer of crayons is Crayola, which alone produces 12 million crayons a day and nearly 3 billion crayons annually — enough to circle the earth six times when laid end to end! Crayola crayons are packaged in 12 languages and sold in 80 countries. The company produced its 100 billionth crayon on Feb. 6, 1996. Dixon Ticonderoga – manufacturer of another iconic writing instrument of childhood, the #2 yellow pencil – is probably the second largest producer of crayons in the U.S., under the American Crayon brand name.
- Well over 100 million crayons are thrown out every year by more than 15,000 family-style restaurant chains across the U.S.
- 112 average crayons equals one pound of waste.
- Made from paraffin wax, which is derived from petroleum, it can take years (even decades) for a crayon to decompose in a landfill.
- The average child wears down 720 crayons by his or her 10th birthday.
- Crayons are the 18th most recognizable smell in the world according to a Yale University study, trailing coffee and peanut butter that were number one and two respectively, but beating out cheese and bleach, which placed at 19 and 20.
- Early crayons – introduced in the 1800s – were black and sold mainly to factories and plants as waterproof markers. Colored crayons for artistic purposes were introduced in Europe around the same time, but like the black crayons, contained materials that were toxic and thus were not appropriate for children. The first non-toxic crayons suitable for kids, in a package of eight for 5 cents, was marketed in the U.S. in 1903. Contemporary crayons are entirely non-toxic (adhering to strict legal guidelines).
- In an online “census” in 2000 done by Crayola (which produces 120 core colors), blue turned out to be the most-popular color in the U.S., with six shades voted onto the top-10 list, including cerulean, midnight blue, periwinkle, aquamarine, denim and blizzard blue.
- In 1998, the Smithsonian Institute added a 1958 64-count box of Crayola crayons to the permanent collection of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. That same year, Crayola crayons were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York and were featured on a 32-cent U.S. postage stamp.
- The largest crayon in the world was created by Crayola (in blue, of course) in 2003 and is on display at its headquarters in Easton, Pennsylvania. Weighing 1,500 pounds, it is 15-feet long, 16 inches in diameter and was created out of 123,000 blue crayons mailed in from children across the country. It could color an entire football field or draw a line 10 miles long!