In the blur of school activity, students read, write, calculate and doodle. With that vision in mind, no company has created a bigger connection with the educational world than Crayola, monarch of colored pencils, crayons and markers. With that title comes a wave of concern regarding toxins and waste. After all, Crayola manufactures 465 million plastic markers alone each year, which begs the question of corporate responsibility. Fortunately, Crayola’s ahead of the curve on this one with the introduction of a voluntary marker recycling initiative for K-12 classrooms.

ColorCycle, the cleverly-named program, came into being a few years ago when Crayola decided to take steps to divert billions of markers “marked” for the landfill. Since the ideology of the company focuses squarely on education, they feel it makes sense to take part in educating students about social and environmental responsibility.

“The ColorCycle program has repurposed more than 70 tons of expended markers in the United States and Canada since 2013, and uses the most advanced plastic conversion technologies available today to make wax compounds for asphalt and roofing shingles as well as to generate electricity that can be used to heat homes, cook food, and power vehicles.”

In conjunction with teachers, the front line in education, Crayola is backing the environmental movement with the ColorCycle plan that also includes educational-support tools. These lesson plans list supplies and activities that facilitate classroom learning about topics such as coral reefs, inventions, and how pollution travels across the planet.

Related: 13 eco-friendly back-to-school supplies for a sustainable school year

To participate in ColorCycle, school administrators or PTO members are informed about the program and an ambassador is chosen at the school. Collection boxes are then placed in classrooms or central locations around the school. When it’s time to ship the markers back, they are counted and packed into a plain cardboard box. A quick visit to the Crayola website will provide a shipping label and then FedEx ships the box on Crayola’s dime. To encourage involvement, Crayola also provides a letter that ambassadors can send out to parents and the community, informing them about the program along with signs that can be printed and posted around the school.

There are no costs to the school or teachers so the time to set up, monitor, count and package the markers seems like a worthy investment both towards teaching children about eco-friendly practices and in promoting behaviors that help the environment.

The Crayola ColorCycle program is currently available to K-12 classrooms across the United States and parts of Canada. Although not currently available outside the public schools, the company encourages daycares and other community members to take advantage of the drop boxes. Crayola will accept all brands of plastic markers, including dry erase markers and highlighters. See the Crayola website for more information about the program and how to sign up.

+ Crayola

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