Going green to raise green: Eco-friendly school fundraisers

tree mural

Image via Flickr by mikecogh

Fundraising for schools and field trips is a useful way to bring in money and introduce students to civic involvement. Unfortunately, some of the most common school fundraisers – like selling wrapping paper and bake sales – aren’t eco-friendly.

There’s good news, though – it’s actually quite easy to raise money for your school without lowering environmental standards. In fact, there are plenty of easy ways to organize a school fundraiser that actually benefits the environment.

Recycling:

Electronics: Building a fundraiser around recycling is great because it usually costs nothing. Household electronics are among the most commonly thrown away items that are easily recyclable. Organizations like Cartridges for Kids pay schools for recycling cell phones, printer cartridges, laptops, MP3 players and other unwanted electronics.

Packaging Waste: Terracycle allows schools to raise funds by collecting items like juice pouches and candy wrappers to be recycled. Such items aren’t commonly accepted by curbside recycling programs and are prevalent in schools, so it makes all the sense in the world to responsibly dispose of them and raise money at the same time.

Clothing and Shoes: USAgain’s Greenraiser is a viable way for schools to raise money by collecting surplus clothes and shoes to be recycled. Once a school signs up on the USAgain website, a bin is placed and the school receives a quarterly check from USAgain. According to the EPA, 11.1 million tons of textiles are thrown away every year, and every pound of cotton diverted from landfills prevents the emission of seven pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Combine those statistics with the ability to raise money for schools, and it’s no wonder over 550 schools nationwide participate in our Earth Month Challenge, an Earth Month-inspired twist on the Greenraiser where cash prizes are rewarded to the top recycling schools in the month of April.

All of these recycling fundraisers can become a fun competition with some minor tweaks. Classrooms or grade levels can compete against each other for who can recycle the most, with an eco-friendly prize as a reward.

Walk-a-thons:

A walk-a-thon is another way to raise funds without burdening the environment. Provided there are willing sponsors, a walk-a-thon is a useful green fundraising option that promotes physical activity. Because of the low-intensity nature of a walk-a-thon, a wide range of people are encouraged to participate. Bowl-a-thons and sporting marathons – like a continuous soccer game with rotating participants – also work to raise funds in a green way. Also, consider selling T-shirts made from recycled materials at fundraisers, such as a walk-a-thon or recycling drive.

Trees

The old cliché about money growing on trees isn’t true, unfortunately, but planting trees to raise funds is a viable option for a green fundraiser. One way to do it is through an adopt-a-tree event. To do this, contact an organization that sells tree seedlings and inform them of your fundraiser; you’re likely to get seedlings at a discount if they’ll be used in a school fundraiser, or perhaps even free of charge. Once seedlings are secured, you’ll want to reach out to parents and local businesses to find adopters, or people interested in sponsoring tree planting. For example, for $75 a tree will be sponsored by a local business, and a plaque or certificate will be given to the owner to proudly show patrons the business’ commitment to education and the environment.

Environmental education should be a goal for all schools – elementary, middle and high schools and colleges, too. What better way to educate students on the environment than to raise cash in the process? We at USAgain are all about going green to raise green.

Leave us a comment with ideas and ways your school has raised money via environmentally friendly fundraising.

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