Recycled crayon business embodies Earth Day message

April 22, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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NEW — 10:50 a.m. April 22, 2014

Mike and Leah Wong, children of Wacky Crayons creator Regan Wong, lend a helping hand as they make the unconventional drawing tool in the family’s garage. At left, Wacky Crayons come in fully compostable packaging and include a variety of shapes, from flowers to the Millennium Falcon. Photos By Christina Corrales-Toy

Mike and Leah Wong, children of Wacky Crayons creator Regan Wong, lend a helping hand as they make the unconventional drawing tool in the family’s garage.
Photo contributed

Local mom Regan Wong found a nifty way to repurpose the contents of that long forgotten box, tucked away in a closet, filled to the brim with broken, sometimes wrapperless crayons.

The vibrant coloring tools undoubtedly lived a life of usefulness at one point, but rather than letting them sit on a shelf reminiscing about the good old days of elementary school, or letting them rot in a landfill, Wong is turning them in to something environmentally friendly and beautiful.

Wacky Crayons takes used crayons, melts them down and, using food-grade molds, crafts new, multicolored drawing instruments in various shapes and sizes.

“We didn’t invent this, but we’re sort of perfecting it along the way,” Wong said.

Wacky Crayons offers more than 200 shapes, including hearts, butterflies, peace signs and even a Millennium Falcon. If you can find the shape in a silicon mold, they can make it. Wong can fulfill customized orders, too.

Wong takes her wares to craft fairs in the area, where children are always confused when they first see a dinosaur-shaped crayon, for example, she said.

“Once they get them in their hands and they start coloring, though, they see all the colors that are created just by striking the paper,” she said. “That’s the most encouraging part. In fact, it’s greater than the sale, to see them discover that it’s a crayon.”

It’s unconventional, sure, drawing with a Star Wars spaceship, but it brings out a heightened fun and creativity within kids, Wong said.

Wacky Crayons was born about five years ago, when Wong’s son saw a snowman mold and wanted to try melting crayons into the shape. It’s become quite the family affair since, Wong said.

The crayons are made south of Issaquah in the family’s garage, remodeled to accommodate an increased workload after the kitchen became too small. All four of her children and her husband help with the venture.

Her older children, both Liberty High School graduates, help with marketing and creating custom coloring books. The younger two, students at Briarwood Elementary School, get their hands dirty in helping craft the crayons.

Elementary schools in the Issaquah and Renton school districts donate crayons to Wong, but anyone with spare crayons is welcome to. She only uses nontoxic, American-made crayons that conform to arts and crafts standards.

The family goes through the crayons and sorts them, checking for that qualification. If the family can’t confirm the crayon’s origin, or they find it wasn’t made in the country, they donate the leftovers to arts-and-crafts charities.

The recycled product, complete with biodegradable and fully compostable packaging, was a perfect fit for Issaquah’s Recology CleanScapes store, which started selling Wacky Crayons in December.

“They’re great for Easter baskets, Christmas stockings, birthday party favors. I mean, we don’t need one more plastic toy in our house, right? So, we try to promote things that are reusable,” said Brenda DeVore, the store’s retail manager.

The Gilman Village store offers products that encourage waste reduction by replacing disposable items with reusable ones, promoting recycled and recyclable products, and embracing reuse through unique, “upcycled” goods.

Throughout the month of April, and in honor of Earth Day, DeVore is asking the community to bring donations of crayons to the store. Every family that brings as many or as few crayons as they can, will receive a free peace sign-shaped Wacky Crayon as thanks.

Learn more about Wacky Crayons at www.wackycrayons.com.

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