Even the most inescapable and impenetrable playpens won’t stop an infant from finding a way to stick something in its mouth that shouldn’t be there. A parent can be endlessly vigilant but it’s still going to happen, so instead of paranoia, a better approach is to just ensure everything a child potentially interacts with is safe to go in their mouths, like crayons made from food waste.
Naoko Kimura, a Japanese graphic designer who worked from home while raising her children, struggled to find a brand of crayons her kids could use that was completely safe for them to put in their mouths, as kids will randomly do. Companies like Crayola assure their products are non-toxic should they accidentally be consumed, but the ingredients used aren’t exactly the same stuff you’d find in a bottle of baby food.
While preparing a meal one day, Kimura was struck by the vivid colors of the vegetables she was preparing and was inspired to find a way to use those naturally occurring colors as a tool for creativity. It was the catalyst for what eventually became the Oyasai Crayon, which sources the majority of its ingredients from vegetable waste and the by-products of rice production. The crayons themselves are made from “solid rice bran wax and liquid rice bran oil” which are used to polish rice—a process that removes the husk, bran, and germ from the grains, leaving them easier to cook.
The various shades of the crayons are created by mixing in crushed fruits and vegetable powders. And while food-safe pigments are added to increase the vibrancy of each color, the crayons contain less than a third of the amount that’s typically added to wax-based crayons. To emphasize the unique origins of the Oyasai Crayons, instead of being named by color, they’re named after the fruits and vegetables that went into their creation, like “carrot,” or “purple potato.”
The Oyasai Crayons are already available for sale in Japan, but Kimura, and her company, Mizuiro, have turned to Kickstarter for a crowdfunding campaign that will help make them available to parents all around the world. With a modest funding goal of less than $10,000, anyone interested in ordering the basic ten-color set of vegetable crayons can do so with a pledge of about $20. Delivery is expected sometime in August, later this year, and to anywhere in the world.
It’s always a good idea to approach crowdfunded products with a bit of caution, but in this case, the Oyasai Crayons are already an existing product that’s in production and not a prototype that could face innumerable unplanned challenges as it moves toward manufacturing. That being said, the ongoing pandemic has thrown everyone a curveball, and there’s the very real chance that delays could occur, but that’s probably the worst that could happen with this one.