Japanese company Mizuiro Inc. worked with designer Naoko Kimura to create a sustainable alternative to the traditional crayon. The Oyasai Crayons are made with all-natural ingredients produced from food waste, making them safer and more sustainable than traditional crayons.
About 150 million crayons are discarded annually throughout the U.S. by restaurants alone, according to the Crayon Collection project, which aims to ensure that every child around the world has access to crayons and creativity despite their socio-economic position.
Additionally, most of the crayons in the market are not environmentally friendly – made of paraffin wax, which contains petroleum, a toxic chemical – and are unsafe for children if they accidentally eat them. If crayons aren’t recycled, they wind up in landfills and never biodegrade.
Oyasai Crayons are made from rice and vegetables, including rice bran oil and rice wax from rice bran. Both solid rice bran wax and liquid rice bran oil are byproducts of the rice polishing process so the crayons are essentially made from waste. The pigment also comes from recycled plant materials like outer leaves of vegetables that are typically discarded after harvesting.
The colors of the crayons fully reflect the vegetables used as coloring for them, which is why they are given actual vegetable names. As of now, the collection features ten colors made from Japanese yam, green onion, long potato, burdock, corn, snow carrot, apple, cassis, purple potato, and takesumi (bamboo charcoal). For the same reason, some colors smell a bit like the vegetables they’re made from. No extra fragrance has been added.
While the crayons are not edible, they are safer and more sustainable than traditional crayons. Oyasai Crayons meet the Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) standard, an inspection that ensures a benchmark for crayon strength, and have earned the European standard toy safety EN71-3: 2013 certificate as a result of a strict safety inspection. The company has also received numerous design awards for the product.