Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Drawing Theory and Resources

Sustainable Crayon Reuse

Sara Ottomano
We are always considering how many ways we can reuse materials in the Art Studio.
When our much-loved beeswax crayons break in the studio, we check to see if they can continue to be used by our youngest guests. If they are too small and pose a choking hazard, (we use a child choking hazard tube tester to determine this) we collect the crayon pieces in a bin for our team to use in prep projects.  
An adult uses a small piece of a crayon to rub a texture onto a white sticker sheet.
In the past few years, we have used the small crayons mainly to make patterned collage papers using homemade rubbing plates. We have saved up quite a collection that we can use in adult and teen programming. But since we aren’t using up the crayon pieces as fast as we are collecting the broken ones, we were looking for a new way to reuse them. So, we were excited to be approached by an incredible nonprofit, The Crayon Initiative!  
A child in a hospital bed smiles brightly while drawing with crayons from The Crayon Initiative.

The Crayon Initiative’s mission is to “bring happiness to children who are facing the stress of hospitalization by giving them the freedom that comes with creative play.” They collect donations of broken and unwanted crayons, then sort, melt and mold into large specially designed, triangular crayons. The Crayon Initiative team and volunteers package sets of 8 colors and ship to over 240 children’s hospitals across the country for free. There, they are used by Child Life Services departments to provide therapeutic art and recreational activities for pediatric patients.  

After speaking with The Crayon Initiative’s executive team, we realized we share values of sustainability, supporting young artists in storytelling, and providing high-quality art materials for exploration. 

In the Art Studio, an adult places a crayon into a donation box for The Crayon Initiative.

To help support their work and increase our material sustainability, we decided to start a collection site at The Carle for crayons to send to The Crayon Initiative. There is now a box in the studio where we have put our small crayons we no longer need.

We invite museum visitors to bring in their own clean, broken or unwanted crayons and drop them off either in the studio or at the Front Desk. For more information or to help organize a drop-off, email the Art Studio team at

We hope this post inspires you to find more ways to reuse materials and support creativity in the process! If you are interested in starting your own collection at your home, school, library, or learning environment, check out The Crayon Initiative’s guides on how to give crayons. We look forward to continuing to partner with The Crayon Initiative! 


Sara smiling in front of Art Studio display.

Sara Ottomano

Art Educator from 2016-2023 at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Sara (she/her) is enthusiastic about helping others approach art through exploration and experimentation.

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