Posted by: smstrouse | June 28, 2013

Think You Can’t Make a Difference? Think Again!

markersI love to color. Maybe that’s why I’m so enchanted with this story.

But I know it’s more than that. It’s also about what people can accomplish – even the smallest and (seemingly) least powerful of us.

Last year, a group of environmentally astute elementary school kids at Sun Valley Elementary School in San Rafael, CA took note of the huge number of empty colored markers thrown into the trash and decided to do something about it. They asked Crayola, one of the biggest brands of markers, to start a recycling program for the plastic waste from their markers. They also started a petition on change.org and eventually collected over 90,000 signatures. Other schools signed on too.

As a 10-year-old student on the petition page wrote, “I want to let you know that I am not a useless little kid. I can make a difference! By telling you to recycle your pens!”

If you want to be inspired, check out the “Crayola, Make Your Mark” video that the Green Team from Sun Valley Elementary made (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KP4C8GkgLwc).

I dare you to watch it and not smile and get all warm and fuzzy. And I dare you not to be inspired by kids like Kyle who says (very adorably) on the video, “Hey Crayola, I’m learning how to do math, you could learn how to recycle your  markers.”

But as of May, Crayola was not moved. A spokesperson said that while they encourage children to share their ideas,”the company has no plans to offer a recycling program for its markers.”

The Green Team was undaunted. They kept the pressure on. And just one month later, Crayola announced ColorCycle. In this new program, schools can collect markers and send them to a facility where Crayola will turn the plastic into clean-burning fuel. Even FedEx shipping is free.

All I could think of after reading the story was the line from Les Miz, when Gavroche sings, “This only goes to show what little people can do!”

But you know what? “Little people” aren’t just kids. All of us who think that we’re too insignificant to effect change, or there are too few of us to make a difference, or we don’t have the kind of influence that powerful lobbyists do – we need to watch this video, read this story, and celebrate the victory won by these kids.

Then we need to pick our cause and go out and get something done. As Reilly, another of the endearing kids on the video challenges Crayola (and us), “Let’s do this together.”

And Danny sums it all up: “You can do it; just trust in your heart.”

Amen!

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