GREAT FALLS — Crayons, crayons, and more crayons - an estimated 90 pounds worth, all sorted by hand at Sunrise Presbyterian Church in Great Falls.
"We're just happy to be doing it,” said Pastor Jessica Crane Munoz.
The church is participating in the Crayon Initiative. Crayons are collected, sorted, and shipped to the nonprofit which turns them into new crayons to be given to hospitals across the country.
"It fits very well with what our goals are for this year, and that is to increase awareness around environmental issues for our church family as well as the community around us,” Crane Munoz said.
In this case, the crayons were collected from Peace Place and six schools in Great Falls.
"We are aware that Crayons are non-biodegradable and schools, at the end of each year, throw away hundreds of pounds of Crayons. (The) national average is about a half million pounds of Crayons go into landfills every year. We thought 'Well, maybe we can make a very small difference in that,’” said Crane Munoz.
Among those helping sort the crayons was church member and second grade teacher Erica Rusinski.
"It's great, and even knowing how many kids were able to participate and maybe, hopefully, knowing that they're doing a little something to give back as well,” Rusinski said. "I had no idea that they're not biodegradable, so it's another, kind of, learning experience and I think it's a teacher tool. Try and find ways to reuse them in the future."
The crayons are just one of several environmental initiatives underway at the church. The other initiatives are:
- Pill bottle cleaning for re-use
- Aluminum can recycling
- Product exchange
- Switching to LED lights
- Promoting small household changes
- Encouraging neighborhood participation
- Teaching about energy audits and carbon footprints
- Promoting local and American-made products
- Exploring renewable energy
Munoz said COVID is a big reason the church is currently focusing on the environment.
"As we have experienced life through COVID and are re-emerging from our homes and interacting with people again, we are very acutely aware that the environment is on so many peoples’ minds,” Crane Munoz explained. "As Christians, we feel we have a stewardship responsibility to care for the planet that God has made for us but as individuals and as part of the community we also feel that we owe it to the people around us to try to be the best stewards we can."
For more information about the church’s initiatives, contact the church.