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Five Minutes with Eco Crayons

August 25, 2021
Five Minutes with Eco Crayons

Lovingly handmade in South Australia from natural and plant-based ingredients, Eco Crayons offer truly non-toxic and biodegradable art mediums to allow children to colour the rainbow naturally. Carefully crafted and based on a wealth of research, Eco Crayons are a vegan, gluten free and eco-friendly option which encourage children to explore their creativity in the safest way possible. With sustainability at the core of the brand’s ethos, Eco Crayons not only uses naturally sourced ingredients but also fully recyclable packaging, making both the art mediums and packaging eco-friendly and sustainable.

We sat down with Naomi, the creator of Eco Crayons, to chat a bit more about why her passion for non-toxic and natural art mediums led to the creation of Eco Crayons and Natural Eco Paints. We loved learning more about how Naomi’s products are specially designed with both creativity and the environment in mind, and what has been the most personally rewarding aspect of starting Eco Crayons thus far.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started Eco Crayons?

I am Naomi Parsons, the owner operator and creator of both Eco Crayons and Natural Eco Paints. I am a single mum to two children, was a special education teacher before branching out into business and am a bit of an urban hippy – living my life with a light footprint. My vision and passion for truly non-toxic crayons and natural art mediums was born whilst watching my daughter, Arleena, and students in my class chew on crayons and other drawing tools, often with synthetic colours leeching, staining their skin and causing irritation. This was the birth of eco crayons. I began researching what was in commercial non-toxic art products. The use of pigments containing heavy metals, paraffin (from petroleum), synthetic oxides and micas, chemically derived colours, plastics and asbestos particles alarmed me. As a parent and a special education teacher I wanted to know that the children in my circles were using safe art mediums to draw, paint and explore. This is when the endless nights of reading scientific journals about botanicals and experimenting began. I can now, because of my passion for the experimentation process, ‘perfecting’ formulas, and belief in myself, offer an eco-friendly alternative with sustainable packaging.

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We love that your crayons and paints are made from natural ingredients and are plant-based and biodegradable. Can you tell us a bit more about how your products are made and why creating eco-friendly products was important to you?

I source as many raw ingredients as possible from Australian suppliers and manufacturers. All of my products are handmade in my home-based studio in South Australia using a small batch process. There are 10 colours of crayons and 8 of paint made using 25 botanical pigments and my products are the only completely plant based art products with this colour range internationally. Using botanical pigments was important to me because they are a renewable source. Eco Crayons are made by weighing and melting the waxes and butters, colouring them with plant pigments and then pouring the molten crayon into moulds. From here each crayon is cracked from the mould and then hand cut before being packed. Natural Eco Paints are made in a similar way, mixing the starch and tree gums with the pigments and blending them together. Creating eco-friendly products is just the end point, there is a lot that happens behind the scenes from a sustainability perspective: upcycled packaging, biodegradable tapes, no landfill bin, cartridge refills, recharged batteries, machinery with a low energy draw, and a gravity fed water system with the overflow watering my veggie garden. Creating eco-friendly products is important for me because I want all people, especially children, to be able to use natural products. In addition to this there is significant waste linked to traditional art mediums, art and craft – just think about the plastic packaging from squeezy paint tubes, retractable crayons, textas, mixing palettes, waterproof smocks – and this is why I have invested significant amounts of time and energy to ensure that my products have the lightest footprint possible in terms of waste and energy used to recycle components.

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With your background as a teacher and a mum, can you tell us a bit more about why your products are specially designed and how they encourage creativity?

The products are easy to use, versatile and open ended. The eco crayons are all designed to be easy to hold, with the rectangle blocks and leaves having a thumb indentation in the back to aid the development of the pencil grip, it is this attention to detail that makes them really unique. The colours can also be layered and scratched back so they appeal to adults and artist as well. Kids love the different shapes and these appeal to even the most reluctant drawers, I mean who doesn’t want to draw with a dinosaur??? The natural eco paint, in particular, has so many different uses and applications that it reduces the need for a range of art materials. It can be used to as a watercolour, for brush application, to colour playdough and slime, for science experiments and potions. Creativity is such an important outlet for all of us.

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What has been Eco Crayons’ biggest success so far?

I was just nominated as a finalist for the AusMumpreneur awards, which is a pretty big accolade. Success to me though is about changing habits and educating parents, teachers and kids that there are eco-friendly alternatives which are sustainable and are kind to the environment. I find myself crying happy tears when parents share their kids’ artworks and treasures – this is success to me.

What does the future hold for Eco Crayons?

Business growth, employing under-employed parents and educating people about eco-friendly swaps when it comes to art materials. I really want to move into supplying schools, centres and community programs but all of this takes so much time and energy – two things I am pretty low on with being the only person making these products. I am releasing some curated art and craft kits over the coming months which is exciting.

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