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The student news site of Utica High School


The student news site of Utica High School



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Giving Back to Hospitals

Senior Adiaelizabeth gives back to the environment, repurposing with used crayons.

In the age of mass consumerism, it’s important to remember that everyone can make an impact on the amount of waste that is produced on this planet. For senior Adiaelizabeth Catarino, the first step toward a greener planet lies in her own workplace.

“When I started working at Outback Steakhouse, the first thing I noticed was how much waste we create
every day,” Catarino said. “Bags and bags of food and crayons from the kids’ coloring pages every

Many restaurants’ solution to the problem of impatient toddlers and annoyed parents is providing the children with coloring sheets while they wait for their food. This method is effective and can overall improve the restaurant experience for the parents, kids, and everyone involved.

However, the only thing not benefiting from this experience is the earth. “Over 150 million still-good crayons are wasted each year in the U.S.” ( Crayons, which are mostly made of paraffin wax, never decompose which is horrible for the environment when they end up in landfills.

“Obviously, I couldn’t do anything about the wasted food,” Catarino said. “But I could do something about the wasted crayons, which is better than nothing.”

Catarino noticed how little these crayons were used, just
to be sent to a landfill. “These toddlers use these crayons for only a second, or maybe not even at all, and we’re not allowed to reuse them. I was just sitting there thinking, we’re throwing away a pound of crayons every day.” Catarino said.

The solution to the crayon-waste problem was easy to find with a quick google search. “I found a website called the Crayon Initiative,” Catarino said. “I ask my coworkers to put the crayons in a box by my hostess booth, and then I take the crayons to Staples to be delivered.”

The Crayon Initiative is a nonprofit organization that takes unwanted crayons and gives them to children in hospitals. As stated by their mission statement, “We bring happiness to children who are facing the stress of hospitalization by giving them the freedom that comes with creative play.”

Catarino saw this website and took it as an opportunity. “Knowing that I’m making a kid’s day with my donation makes my own day,” Catarino said. “Sometimes I think about how many things just like crayons are wasted everyday, and I get sad. But it starts one person at a time.”

Donating to the Crayon Initiative is easier than some would believe. “I just put them in a box, took it to staples, and shipped it out,” Catarino said. “Some people don’t donate to things because they believe it’s too much of an effort. But it’s really not.”

Of course, there comes with trial and error as she moves along her journey. “I tell all the waitresses and hostesses to make sure to collect the crayons and put them in a box by the hostess desk, but sometimes they forget,” Catarino said. “But it’s worth it when I see the payoff.”

Catarino continues to collect crayons during her employment at Outback Steakhouse.

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About the Contributor
Grace Jenkins
Grace Jenkins, Reporter
Grace Jenkins is a first year Newspaper staff writer. She is a senior at Utica High School and is in Utica's Student Council Executive Board, Utica's NHS, and Varsity tennis. In her free time, Grace enjoys hanging out with friends and creating art.

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