Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back to School: Greener Fundraising Ideas

Here's another compilation of resources for fellow parents hoping to get actively involved in their kids' schools from an environmental angle: eco-friendly (or at least eco-friendlier?) fundraising.

I got an email recently from one of my favorite people, a woman who lives in Boulder with her family. K was disenchanted with her school's giftwrap fundraising program, particularly since her children's elementary school is solar-powered and has local, sustainable, organic meals prepared by none other than Chef Ann Cooper. Be still my beating heart. Anyhoo, K is actively seeking fundraising alternatives.

I've enclosed her letter to a local green group below to help the rest of us in our efforts, and I promised K I'd pass along all of the green school fundraising resources I've come across in my blogging travels. If you've used any of these programs (I have no direct knowledge of any of them, sadly) please comment and let us know how you liked 'em.

K herself scouted out Greenraising's Earth Friendly Fundraising and Green Students but hasn't tried them out.

Think Recycle and Northwest Specialty Coffee were recommended by a friend who shifted the fundraising at Capital City Charter School.

Let's Go Green comes via Green Mom Finds.

I contacted a group called Fair Trade Towns and they responded with the following:

We have many Fair Trade companies who are also very green and have school fundraising programs, including some of those WFTD sponsor companies.

Here are a few organizations that have programs in place - links provided :
Global Goods Partners
Equal Exchange
Lutheran World Relief (with Divine Chocolate)
Global Exchange Online Store
A Greater Gift (SERVV Int'l)

You might also be interested in knowing that we have Fair Trade curriculum out there now, for all ages, and it works well to incorporate with the fundraising efforts (so the kids understand the importance of what they are selling and who made these products). Curriculum is provided by: TransFair USA, Equal Exchange, and Global Exchange. For a full list and links you can go to Fair Trade Resource Network (FTRN).

Below is an email that K sent to a GenGreen, a website started by a Ft. Collins woman to connect people who are interested in green products, jobs, programs, services, etc...

"Hi GenGreen!
Thanks for creating a great website! In September 2007, I listened to Ryan Warner's interview with Charisse McAuliffe on Colorado Matters, KCFR. I am writing you today because I seek some advice on locally-made green products. I am an active parent at Mesa Elementary in Boulder, CO. Mesa is doing a lot of good things for the environment -- Mesa has solar panels, a compost & recycling program with Eco-Cycle, a Garden to the Table program. But we also have an annual gift wrap fundraiser. This fundraiser doesn't appeal to me as I am trying hard at home to reduce, reuse and recycle. (None of the 2007 Sally Foster gift wrap was made from recyclable paper. And because gift wrap is high in contaminates, Eco-Cycle only recycles it during 1 week of the year.) I understand that we need fundraisers to help support our schools. So I was thinking that our kids could sell green products that are are actually needed. I found another green fundraising program that sells: CF'L's, Klean Kanteens, Bento-style lunch boxes (to replace plastic baggies). I think these are great ideas. Perhaps we could even find some locally-made green products. That's why I'm writing to you--GenGreen seems to have its finger on the pulse of local green products. Can you recommend some useful green products that are made right here in Colorado? I found a Denver company called "Baggyshirts" that makes reusable bags from clothing. I appreciate any advise or help you can offer. Thanks very much! ~K"

Here is the recent response from GenGreen:

Begin forwarded message:

Hello K,

I recently received a contact form from you via our new site regarding locally produced, eco-friendly products that might be a greener fundraising alternative for your school, Mesa Elementary. We are thrilled that you reached out to us in this capacity and hope to be able to help! Below I have listed some local retailers that might be worth looking into. Some might require a little investigation, but for the most part I tried to include businesses and orgs producing their own products locally. (More info about these businesses can be found on our site).

Africa Bags
Loveland, CO

Boulder's Best Organics
2525 Arapahoe Ave. Suite E4-555
Boulder, CO 80302
Phone: (303) 499-6742

Ecologic Designs Inc.
2500 N. 47th St. #12
Boulder, CO 80308
Phone: (303) 250-5734
E-mail: n/a

English Retreads
4949 N. Broadway #147
Boulder, CO 80304
Phone: (303) 258-1625

Onno Textiles
1633 Pine Street
Boulder, CO 80302
Phone: (303) 928-7170

Cool Planet Jewelry
Telluride, CO 81435
Phone: (970) 544-9808

There are also a couple of online resources that you might want to check out: (I suspect you may have already found this one!)

*Keep in mind that I'm not endorsing the credibility of these sites, they just looked like they might have some useful info.

As you may know, it is the mission of GenGreen to be the most diverse and comprehensive resource available for people looking to live a locally-focused, environmentally conscious lifestyle. Currently, we are in the process of launching our new GenGreen Ambassador Program. GenGreen Ambassadors are highly motivated, eco-minded individuals (like you!) across the country that promote awareness of the resource and the GenGreen mission. If you would like more info about how to become a GenGreen Ambassador and how to encourage sustainable activities in your area, please let me know…we would love to have someone like you on the Colorado Team.

Please let me know if I can be of any more help with your fundraising efforts and let me know how it goes!


Beth Buczynski
Ambassador Program and Content Coordinator

GenGreen LLC
Find the Green in Everything
415 Mason Ct. #1
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Local 970-488-3636
Toll Free 866-922-2952

That's a lot of linkety goodness and even lots of info about local Colorado resources. Maybe K's example will inspire the rest of us, as we filter through eco friendly fundraising ideas, to remember to look close to home. Divine Chocolate, here I come! And K? You rock. Good luck and thanks for your inspiration.


Burbanmom said...

Wow, MamaBird, another great resource! Thank you!!

eco 'burban mom said...

This is excellent, I always opt out of the gift wrap, candy and nut fund raisers. The ones I typically participate in are for items I would actually use - Magazines (I allow myself two subscriptions per year) and the Entertainment Book (hubby loves that one!). This is a great post that I can take to the PTA, we need to explore more of these options.

Green Bean said...

I'm loving all these back to school ideas. As we get closer and closer to school starting, I'm more and more fired up about changes we can make. Thanks for another great resource!

Melissa said...

Hey, thanks for the ideas. I am going to suggest the NW Coffee one at my son's co-op preschool. The company is actually based in WA state (where we live)--so it is perfect!

Andrea said...

Awesome! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Anna said...

I am in charge of reycling for cash at the school and have instituted some programs that pay cash without people having to buy anything. Such simple ideas of recycling ink jets, cells phones, etc.

I tried to institute other fundraisers but the PTA was resistant because they did not want me to compete with their larger fundraisers. However, I decided to get a list together just in case.

I wrote a post called "Ecofundraising made easy" on my site. I did not know if it was okay to link it to your post. Just let me know. Anna

The Not Quite Crunchy Parent said...

Wow- these are great tips!

Diane MacEachern said...

Really great ideas. My kids sold nothing but pizza kits and Sally Foster wrapping paper (though some of it was recycled). Another alternative: just ask for a donation and skip the stuff altogether. My daughter's school took the "we don't do fundraisers" approach, and successfull raised a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year from grateful parents who really didn't want to have to support more door-to-door sales activity.

greendad said...

If I never see another Sally Foster catalog I'll be a happy parent!! My sister recently came across a program,, that they started this year and have been happy with so far.

C said...

Another idea, in keeping with the green movement, that our school has started this year is an online fundraisers. There is no selling products, which caught my attention and it is really easy to participate it. Our school registered with and then as parents we use the school's give2network page as our homepage and we earn money for the school by searching and shopping from that page. There is also the option to download a toolbar that does the same thing, but I prefer the homepage. Just another idea to add to the list!!