By SHERI GASSAWAY
Electrician Stacey Bonuso has turned her love of crafts and passion for recycling into a side business that’s saving the environment and delighting customers with her unique creations.
Bonuso, a 22-year member of IBEW Local 1, started her crayon recycling business – Sassy Sunshine Products – when she was out of work in 2009. Since then, she has saved 2,200 pounds of crayons from the landfill.
The crafter melts the crayons and pours the wax into fun-shaped ice cube trays or candy molds to create the masterpieces. Her designs include everything from Star Wars, Batman and Superman figures to cupcakes, legos and trains. The products can be reused as crayons or saved as decorations.
HOW THE IDEA CAME ABOUT
Bonuso came up with the idea for her business after watching several informative cable TV programs in which she discovered the benefits of recycling. At the time, she was making candles and using crayons for color. She also learned that crayons don’t decompose, and they add to the mass at local landfills.
“I thought about it, and every grade school child is required to have a new pack of crayons at the start of the school year,” she said. “The crayons get used and broken and the kids don’t want them anymore. That’s when they get thrown in the trash. I started doing the math and then proceeded from there.”
Bonuso is not alone in her work. She collects the used crayons from more than 70 local schools, churches, libraries and businesses. She supplies the organizations with recyclable boxes, bins and bags, and then
She also relies on teens in the work program at Gateway High School to sort the crayons by color and remove the paper. Bonuso pays the students for their work by the pound.
“The kids love doing it, and it gives them a sense of accomplishment,” she said. “They use the money for pizza and ice cream parties.”
FIRST UNION MEMBER IN HER FAMILY
These days, Bonuso is back on the job full time as a journeywoman at Sachs Electric. She is the first and only union member in her family, other than her husband – also an IBEW Local 1 journeyman, whom she met on the job 12 years ago.
After graduating from Parkway North, Bonuso went to work for a silk screening shop. She learned about the benefits of union membership, and Local 1 in particular, through a girlfriend who was working as a union electrician at the time.
“She said if you like working with your hands and don’t mind getting dirty, you should apply for an apprenticeship,” Bonuso said. “Well I love working with my hands and don’t mind getting dirty, so I applied and was accepted in the program.”
Twenty-two years later, she still enjoys getting up and going to work in the trade. And because she has consistent work hours, she still has time for her family and her crafting/recycling efforts.
WHERE TO FIND THE PRODUCTS
You can find Bonuso’s work at indoor craft fairs September through December in both Missouri and Illinois. She also hosts ornament decorating parties using crayon shavings.
To learn more about her products and services or to set up a crayon collection site at your organization, visit sassysunshineproducts.com.