Earning, giving back, recycling fundraisers for schools

Raising money for education is a worthy cause and one nearly every school embarks on at some point. Not all fundraisers are created equal, however, in terms of money-raising potential, learning experience and environmental impact. Selling wrapping paper, for example, might help a school raise money but at the cost of the environment.

Ideally, a successful school fundraiser hits on three levels: raising sufficient money, giving students firsthand learning experience and being environmentally beneficial. Is it possible for a fundraiser to be a win-win-win?

The answer? Of course.

Recycling fundraisers that focus on the importance of reusing and repurposing uncommon items are a hit at schools for all three reasons.

1. Recycling fundraisers are financially rewarding.

Cell phones, printer cartridges and clothing all hold great monetary value for schools when recycled as part of a fundraiser.

2. Recycling fundraisers provide valuable firsthand learning experience.

Students can calculate their environmental impact as they collect recyclables and learn about the effects of CO­­2 emissions, water usage and more.

3. Instead of generating waste, recycling fundraisers reduce it.

As opposed to fundraisers that sell products and generate waste, recycling fundraisers lessen waste and keep valuable resources out of landfills and in use.

Recycling fundraiser ideas

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 money for the amount of recyclables collected.

Schools signed up for the Greenraiser are automatically entered in the Earth Month Challenge, a recycling drive in April where cash prizes are awarded for the top recycling schools. As students collect clothing to recycle, they’ll have the opportunity to learn about the need for textile recycling and its environmental benefits via an exclusive curriculum created by SMART, the nationwide recycling association. USAgain also runs week-long collection events for schools unable to host a bin year-round.

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.

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