Art & Desgin

Oyasai Crayons are a plant-based coloring option made from food waste

There is an astonishing environmental impact from everyday items, such as basic school supplies. In an effort to produce options that are more sustainable, a Japanese company, Mizuiro, Inc., has found a way to make the ubiquitous crayon with all-natural ingredients.

Dubbed Oyasai Crayons, this product is made from rice and vegetables. The recipe relies on rice bran oil and rice wax from rice bran. Solid rice bran wax and liquid rice bran oil are both byproducts of the rice polishing process. The colors also come from recycled plant materials. During harvesting, the outer leaves of vegetables are typically discarded, but Oyasai Crayons make use of this food waste by collecting it and converting it into colors for the crayons. The same pigments used as ingredients in food are used to further enhance the colors. That means everything in these crayons is natural. We all know how kids tend to put things in their mouths, so Oyasai Crayons offer a relatively worry-free option. 

Related: Crayola Colorcycle initiative offers free recycling for markers used in K-12 classrooms 

blue box near crayons and chopped vegetables
child drawing with yellow plant-based crayon

The idea was born when founder Naoko Kimura discovered the vivid and colorful options that could be produced by vegetables while working as a graphic designer and parenting from home. The idea grew with the understanding of vegetable waste from harvesting as well as produce cast out because it didn’t meet standards. The crayons are now produced in Kimura’s home country of Japan. 

person pouring rice wax into blue vat
person pouring red-dyed wax into mold

So far, the company is providing 10 colors, made from Japanese yam, green onion, long potato, burdock, corn, snow carrot, apple, cassis, purple potato and takesumi (bamboo charcoal). 

red molded crayons
child holding apple in one hand and red crayon in other hand

Oyasai Crayons meet the JIS standard, which is an inspection that ensures a benchmark for crayon strength. They 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.

kid drawing on paper with orange crayon
kids grabbing plant-based crayons from blue box

While all ingredients are food-grade, the company suggests that caregivers seek medical care if a child ingests them. “We use safe and secure ingredients such as rice oil and rice wax, vegetable and fruit powder, but they are not ‘food,’” the company said. “It’s okay if you ‘lick it’, but if you have eaten polypoly, please consult a medical institution.”

+ Oyasai Crayons

Images via Mizuiro, Inc.

family drawing together with box of crayons

Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

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