Crayon Rescue
– Resource Recycling Project

Crayon recycling program for a group of well known British holiday resorts – meant to reduce crayon waste by millions per year and to supply materials for schools and other educational facilities among others in England, East Europe and South Africa.

Crayon Recycling Problem

In many holiday resorts, hotels and restaurants in Great Britain, you can find free colouring pages and crayons for the youngest guests. That’s good for these kids – they have a creative thing to do while their parents can relax and eat their meal in peace. Crayons are also helping our youngest to develop many essential skills. Drawing helps in ​colour recognition, coordination, motor skills, self-expression, dealing with emotions (art-therapy) and focus​. Many kids are using colouring pages in restaurants and other places every day. Although not many of them take the crayons home. There is often no regulation in companies’ rules, about what to do with used pencils. That’s why most of these crayons are thrown away by the staff every day – that is just a terrible waste of kids utensils.

Statistics: approximate number of crayons wasted in one restaurant.

Do you know how many crayons one restaurant may throw away every month? I’ve checked that while working in one of the restaurants of Butlin’s resort in Bognor Regis. In effect of that, I’ve collected more than 1500 crayons alone in less than a month. Now, if one employee can gather more than one thousand and five hundred used crayons in one month, then imagine the number the whole staff could receive at the time.

one person = more than 1 500 crayons* / month
12 staff members ​(floor service) = ​more than 18 000 crayons / month
more than 18 000 crayons x 12 months = more than 216 000 crayons / year 

Thus, approximately two hundred sixteen thousands of crayons are thrown away every year.  These numbers are enormous, and the waste is just terrible.

What did guests say if asked about taking crayons home? Some of them were surprised they actually could take them. But most of asked said that they have more than enough at home already – they don’t need any more. They didn’t want to take a few pencils very possibly dirty in food. But some kids don’t have crayons.

Guidelines: The project complies with Butlin’s mission.

As many may know, Billy Butlin (founder of Butlin’s) was a very child-orientated person and based his holiday camps around the youth. He started his business among others because of the fact he had a bad experience on holiday as a child himself. Billy began to donate money to Great Ormond Street Hospital  Children’s Charity in the first years of his resort business (1938), and  Butlin’s company continues these donations until today.

The happiness of children was, without a doubt, fundamental to Billy  Butlin. He has created a brilliant business. However, there is always room for improvement. I have done my research, and there is a range of different charities with which the company can donate their used crayons to kids in the schools, hospitals and orphanages.  Maybe resort’s guests have enough toys for their children. But there are still many children who have nothing and could be way happier with something as simple as a pack of crayons. The donations could give them a bit better start in their life, as well as improve their imagination and education.

Considering the crayons would just be wasted or binned when they could be going to a better home – I think it would be ridiculous and selfish to turn down such an opportunity.  I think if Billy Butlin were still here himself, he wouldn’t see this as the right thing to do. I guess he would be very proud to say that the company is helping the less fortunate children out.

Direction: Who would be happy to receive crayons?

How used crayons can be useful in:

  1.  Kindergartens ​- they use pencils to teach kids the necessary skills like motor skills, colour recognition, creative expression.
  2.  Schools​ – similar to kindergartens, they use donated crayons to do art classes for kids to help them in learning and in improving their motor skills, creativity and ways to deal with their feelings.
  3. Hospitals​ – use crayons to make hospitalised kids feel better, to create a friendly environment for these, who needs to stay at the facility for a longer time and to help children deal with their motor problems caused by accidents, mutations and illnesses.
  4. Orphanages​ – need crayons for self-expression and art-therapy workshops, and to provide a more friendly and positive environment to all the children.
  5. Family Help Foundations​ – they use donated materials, such as crayons, e.g. during family workshops and art therapy sessions for both kids and adults.
  6. Refugee Camps –  use donated materials, such as crayons, especially for kids activities.

    Direction: West Sussex area

      There are plenty of charities in resort’s neighbourhood (West Sussex area) who would have like to take care of the unneeded, used crayons and send them to the children in need from Great Britain and worldwide. Some of them are:

      • Family Support Work​ – that has been helping Sussex’s most  vulnerable families and their kids since 1890.
      • Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice for Sussex ​- is the children’s hospice for East and West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and South East  Hampshire and cares for 300 children and young adults from 0-19  years of age with progressive life-shortening conditions.
      • School Aid – is a UK charity that uses surplus educational resources to assist and support literacy in Africa. They equip disadvantaged schools in stuff like books, crayons and paper.
      • Local schools and orphanages.

      the impact

      The impact can be incredible. Because sometimes small things make a huge difference. The few crayons not thrown out to the bin can change the experience of a child who needs to find a way to deal with emotions.  Donated goods, even such as crayons, can provide a better life for the youth in their early age – can help to show them the way to improve their skills, to have dreams and go for them. 
      These are small things that matter.

      With such a vast amount of used crayons and the help of local charities,  Butlin’s can improve the level of life of kids not only in Great Britain and  England but also in the whole of Europe or even in Africa. The company can make it happen with a minimum effort, just by organising a  box for used crayons in every of our restaurant and by donating the waste to proper charities and facilities.


      1. Bottom-up, One Person Action 
        It assumes collecting crayons by volunteers from restaurants who give all the used pencils to one person instead of throwing  them away. Everything happens with the consent and knowledge of the proper people in the company. The person takes care of sending the collected pencils every month to the appropriate organisations.   
      2. In-Company Volunteer Action 
        It assumes a  group of volunteers to have a permit from the Butlin’s company to organise crayon collection in their places of work, like in restaurants. They care for all further actions like shipping the packs of crayons to proper charities and facilities.
      3. Official In-Company Project  (Bognor Regis)
      4. Official Company’s Charity Donation Project  (All Butlin’s Resorts) 

      Note: Which crayons should be collected and which should not?

      I think it’s essential to mark this difference. Let’s collect only used, unpacked, broken or dirty crayons which are and would be thrown away cause they can’t be given back to new guests. Unwrapped and not used pencils should go back to the proper place in the restaurant, to be used again as undamaged.  

        Partnership: Example of a simple charity partnership.

        When I was looking for solutions, I wrote many emails to different charities in West Sussex. I was asking about crayon donations from the restaurant, not telling them which facility I work for exactly or even in which city. To be respectful of the company, as a person who can not make any official actions by myself, I did my research giving a piece of minimum information. Many charities, foundations and organisations didn’t send me a response at all. Others have answered that they don’t need crayons or cannot receive crayon donations. I wrote, among others, to local charities and schools, to British Red Cross Sussex and Family Support Work (FSW). However, after a few days, I finally got a positive response. It came from one of the British charities I wrote. Their answer was:

        “We would definitely like to be receiving of these crayons as they are something that is in high demand in the schools in Africa, but that sadly we don’t get donated often. We would definitely be happy to arrange a partnership. (…) We have also said that if you want to store the boxes up over time, we would be happy to take a trip down to you in our van every so often to do a mass collection. Furthermore, we would be glad to do an official thank you to your organisation and draw attention to this donation, which may help with publicity. Good luck with discussing this with your managers. I hope it all goes well, for you and for us.”

        Other Examples: What they do with used crayons in other countries?

        Please check these links: – Crayons Matter – Greensboro, North Carolina – The Crayon Initiative – Danville, California (here you can find an article about this wonderful initiative: Dad-of-two launches project to rescue old crayons destined for landfill and turn them into smiles) – Crazy Crayons & The National Crayon Recycling Program – Troutdale, Oregon – Crayon Collection (crayon recycling charity) – Los Angeles, California – “Super Crayons” project – Chicago – No Crayon Left Behind – Wexford, Pittsburgh

        I’ve added these examples to show you how much we can do with used crayons instead of throwing them away. Most of these actions are from the United States, I know – and that worries me. There are not many charities or companies which recycle crayons in Europe. That’s why I believe Butlin’s company could do a change for better and be pioneers in England in one more subject – by reducing the waste of pencils and increasing the happiness of children, and by giving an excellent example to other companies.

        Butlin’s final decision about the crayon recycling project

        A month after the presentation of the project, I received an official response from Butlin’s mother company. The decision was made – from that moment the whole company has started to collect crayons and send them to the local charity I found. Furthermore, I have been notified that the action has its place not only in West Sussex but in all Butlin’s resorts in England. Appropriate steps were taken, the project program was officially presented to all restaurant managers; dedicated announcements, containers and markings were prepared. 

        It’s hard for me to express how much I’m proud and happy about the company’s decision and the course of actions taken to implement my project. I firmly believe that we’re doing something right by reducing the vast waste of pencils and sending our goods where they are needed. I also hope that the project will be continued in a good way and perhaps inspire other people to think about similar actions in their work environment.

        ​* ​based on a test of collecting and counting used crayons in The Deck Restaurant, Bognor Regis, from March 17 to April 13, 2019. The exact number of pencils raised: 1 615.