September 6, 2013

Work of Art: School Kids' Petition Sparks Recycling Programs by Marker Manufacturers

If you’re part of the “Boomer,” “Gen X” or “Millennial” generations, take note of “Gen Z,” or the “Net Generation,” and the youth already making their mark.

A recently released “Cassandra Tween Report” states Gen Z kids are a “generation of self-starters, multi-thinkers and pioneers, who will want to carve their own individual paths to success."

The oldest Gen Z-ers are about 13-years-old and characterized as being tech savvy, constantly plugged in, connected through social media and empowered by their access to information, which I believe equates to being mini-influencers.

I wanted to highlight some shining examples of such “self-starters” at Sun Valley Elementary School in Marin County, Calif., where one student asked, “Where do we recycle our Crayola markers when they dry out?”

As 11-year-old Nando Castellar drew a factory polluting the air and water, he explained that he colored the water a faded blue because “it’s not as blue as it used to be. It’s getting darker and then the sun is not as yellow as it used to be. It’s kind of like messing up the earth,” he said in a sad voice.

“I’ve thrown away about a hundred markers and I just want them to recycle them because it’s getting to our landfills - it’s creating landfills and it’s getting into our oceans and it’s killing the animals.”

Land Wilson, a parent volunteer of Sun Valley Elementary School's "Kids Who Care" program did some research and couldn’t find an answer to the Crayola conundrum.

They wrote a letter to Crayola urging them to recycle their markers. Crayola sent a letter praising them for their enthusiasm, but didn't offer a solution.

To rally support, the students created an online petition that quickly generated more than 90,000 signatures.

Dixon Ticonderoga, an art and office supply company (and Crayola competitor) heard about the online petition. The public support inspired them to create a recycling program where schools can send Prang Markers postage-free back to the company’s headquarters in Florida for recycling.

Check out Go Inspire Go's inspiring video and discover how these mini-change makers got these big companies to take a greener approach to how they do business.



A year after the Sun Valley Elementary School Gen Z-er’s initial plea, Crayola decided to launch their ColorCycle program. Crayola says they will be transformed into clean-burning fuel.

Students from K-12 in schools in North America and Canada can send the markers back to the Pennsylvania-based company. So far, more than 120 schools have signed up for the program.

Congratulations to the students of Sun Valley Elementary School for making their “mark” and coloring outside of the lines!

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