Tag Archives: Recycling

15 Eco Friendly Fundraisers For Schools

15 Eco Friendly Fundraisers For Schools

School fundraisers aren’t always particularly welcome when you’re trying to be eco friendly. Selling a bunch of wrapping paper, cookie dough and so forth doesn’t always appeal that much. It’s a bunch of money parents, extended family members, friends and coworkers can get tired of spending. Schools willing to step outside that box, however, have some interesting options for eco friendly fundraisers.

1. Electronics Recycling

My kids’ school has done an electronics recycling fundraiser two years in a row now. While I don’t know anything about the quality of the company they go through, I think this is an excellent concept. It keeps electronic waste out of the dump and allows the school to raise money, yet families don’t have to spend any extra money.

The one our school does is a one-day event, where everything is dropped off during the listed time frame, although the school can also allow pre-collection so that some stuff is there already.

There are also programs out there for ongoing fundraising by collecting and recycling electronics, such as through Recycling Fundraiser, Funding Factory, and others.

2. Donation Drive

Goodwill in Southern California has a donation drive program where schools and other nonprofits can earn money for every bin filled. I believe it’s available elsewhere too.

This is a nice way for the school to earn money while families get rid of the junk that accumulates in most homes. And once again, you don’t have to buy anything for your kids’ school to raise some money.

3. Have A Clean Up Drive

Have students ask friends and family to sponsor them at a cleanup day at a local park, beach or another natural area. Encourage people to give either a rate per pound cleaned up by the student or a flat rate they will give the student for participating. This way the school and a natural area in your community both benefit.

 

4. Recycle Aluminum Cans And Other Waste

Schools can earn money by recycling aluminum cans and plastic bottles for the money. This one takes a lot of space, however. Just look for local places you can take the goods or see if any places will pick up when there’s enough collected.

For schools with less space, you can also collect just the tabs off aluminum cans. They don’t take much space but can add up to some reasonable money for the school. You can participate in the Great American Can Roundup if there are buyback locations in your area.

If you want to go beyond the usual recycling programs, Terracycle has a Brigade program where various items can be collected, and the money donated to a nonprofit or school that you select. They have 40 programs to choose from. Some have a cost, but others are free, right down to the shipping.

This one takes a fair bit of space, of course, as it takes time to collect enough waste to send in. The programs can fill up for a time as well, and you may have to wait for the right one to open for your school. They offer programs for drink pouches, baby food pouches, printer cartridges, electronics and much more.

5. Walk-a-thons, 5k, etc.

These are a good way to encourage the kids to get active while raising money. Have them get family and friends to sponsor them to raise money for the school.

This can be just about any activity the kids can do – walking, running, dancing, whatever. Keep it simple to keep the costs down.

6. Smencils

Yes, eventually it comes back to buying. Still, I like the Smencils fundraisers. Smencils are scented pencils made from recycled newspapers, and kids go nuts for them. Best of all, pencils are things students absolutely need, not just junk. As pencils go, they’re pricey, but they make a nice treat for the kids. Best of all, at our school it’s usually students running the fundraiser under a teacher’s supervision, selling to other students to fund a field trip, not something to take to work. Smens are also available.

7. Scrip

Scrip has been around for a very long time. Basically, it’s buying gift cards to stores you already shop at through your school, including many grocery stores. The school gets a percentage (varies by store), you get to spend the same amount you would have anyhow while benefiting your school. Shop With Scrip and eScrip are two options.

You can also sign up directly with certain stores, such as Target, to have a percentage of your purchases go to the school of your choice when you use their card.

8. Sign Up With Amazon.com

Schools can join the Amazon.com Associates Program and earn a percentage of sales on purchases made by people who click through their link. The challenge here is getting people to remember to get to Amazon through the school’s link, not through bookmarks or just typing it in. Not everyone approves of this, as some feel that it takes money away from local businesses that would come back to schools through taxes, but many people are going to shop through Amazon anyhow.

9. Shop Through iGive

iGive is a program your school can sign up for, then go through the iGive button or download the app for their online shopping. iGive partners with many online stores, and a percentage goes to the school.

The wonderful part about an online fundraiser is that it’s not limited to local friends and family. Anyone you know who is willing to use your school’s links can participate. Families can share links through email as well as social media such as Facebook.

10. Collect Spare Change

Encourage families to donate their spare change to the school. A jar can be placed in the school office as well as at any businesses willing to help out. As anyone who has collected their own spare change knows, this can add up fast.

A fun way to do this is called Penny Wars. My kids’ school does this every year. Every grade has a bucket in which they collect change. Every penny is a point. Any other coin subtracts points up to its face value, such as -5 points for a nickel. This allows grades to sabotage each other. The kids get very competitive about the whole thing.

The wonderful part about Penny Wars is that it has very little overhead. The school gets all the money, and the buckets can be reused from year to year. The winning grade gets a prize. Our school does a pizza party for them, sponsored by a local pizza place.

11. Box Tops For Education

This program has been around for a long time. Families can collect the box tops off products they purchase anyhow and turn them over to the school, which then gets money for them. The products are not necessarily healthy or eco friendly, but we’re talking about things most families will buy anyhow.

12. Rummage Sale

Have families donate goods they would otherwise send to a charity or sell at their own garage sale, and have a huge rummage sale at your school. Make sure to promote the rummage sale on social media, especially local for sale pages and Craigslist. Make and post signs if they’re allowed in your area.

The hardest part about this idea is getting and storing the goods donated for the rummage sale, and handling disposal afterward. The best thing to do with leftovers is to have arrangements made to donate them. Try to have them picked up very shortly after the sale so the school doesn’t have to deal with storage for long.

A rummage sale requires a lot of volunteers and time. Try to involve both parents and students. It’s a good experience for the students, especially if it’s for something specific to their class.

13. Sell Eco-Friendly Lunch Bags

Help parents quit the disposable habit by selling reusable lunch bags, containers and drink bottles. One Small StepPlanet Wise, ECOlunchbox, and others offer fundraising programs.

14. Fair Trade Chocolate, Coffee, etc.

Chocolate and coffee are fun to sell, although there’s always the risk that you’ll enjoy it too much yourself. There are a variety of companies that offer Fair Trade chocolate, coffee and other goods for fundraisers, such as Dean’s BeansEqual Exchange and Grounds for Change.

15. Non-GMO And Organic Seeds And Bulbs

Help families in your area grow better gardens by selling non-GMO and/or organic seeds. Sow True Seed, High Mowing Seeds, EcoFlower Fundraising, Botanical Interests and the Online GreenHouse offer fundraising programs. Some programs offer seed packets with flowers that are good for attracting bees or butterflies, as well as other types of seeds.

9 Ways to Reduce Waste Around the House

9 Ways to Reduce Waste Around the House

Inside your home is the place where you usually have the most control over the waste you and your family generates. After all, you and your family do the shopping for most of what goes in there throughout the years. If you want to cut down on the waste you’re generating, home is the place to do it. Here are 9 tips to help you reduce waste around your home.

1. Buy less.

So obvious, yet so difficult at times. The less stuff you buy, the less waste you’ll generate.

2.Buy used.

Not everything has to be bought new. There are so many things you can quite reasonably buy used, and that means less waste. Not only does it mean that fewer resources are consumed to make new products, used products often have far less packaging, depending on the source. Certainly items from thrift stores have very little packaging on the whole, however refurbished items may be packaged more or less like new ones. Still, refurbished items are less wasteful than new.

And of course, don’t forget handmedowns. This has saved me a ton of money in children’s clothes, as my sisters and I pass clothing down from child to child to child.

3. Go reusable.

There are so many things you can buy in reusable forms rather than disposable. Grocery bags. Water bottles. Batteries. Any time you need to buy something disposable, think about whether the reusable version might do as well or better.

4. Buy bulk.

When reasonable, buy things in bulk rather than in smaller packages. Some grocery stores have bulk bins, which can make it very easy to buy certain types of food in larger quantities.

Other items can be bought in bulk too. If your family tends to go through something regularly, take a look at how you can buy and store larger quantities. That way you won’t have to go out to buy them as often.

5. Cut down on food waste.

Pay attention to the foods you have on hand, and use up as much as possible before it spoils. In many families, leftovers are a major source of food waste, but there are ways to limit it. You can freeze leftovers into quick meals, for example, so that they last longer and may even be portable for those who work outside the home to bring to work for lunch.

6. Get off mailing lists.

Odds are good that you get a lot of mail you simply are not interested in. You can cut back on this by opting out of many mailing lists. The Direct Marketing Association provides this service for a fee. You can contact companies about catalogs you receive but do not want and get off their lists. You can also contact the credit reporting bureaus and request through each of them that you want off their mailing lists.

It takes some time for your name to get off all the lists. They aren’t updated every month, but over the course of a few months, the junk mail should decrease.

7. Compost.

Composting not only helps you decrease your waste, but gives you something beneficial for your garden. Outdoor compost bins or piles are the traditional ways to go, but there are ways you can compost indoors too.

8. Donate or sell old items.

Many things that you’re done using are still perfectly good for someone else. We recently replaced our old couch, for example, and after getting no interest in anyone buying it, we donated it to charity. Charities can be pretty picky about what they’ll accept, as they mostly want to be able to sell what they pick up from you.

Garage sales are another great way to go. You can sell off old clothes, toys or whatever else you have around the house you want to get rid of, and make a little money while doing so.

9. Recycle.

There may be a lot of things you can recycle, paper, plastic, glass bottles, aluminum cans, etc., depending on the programs available in your area. The recycling company in our area, for example, accepts all numbered plastics, but in other areas only plastics numbered 1 or 2 will be accepted. Plastic shopping bags can be recycled at many grocery stores, for those times you didn’t have a reusable bag on hand.

Old appliances can often be recycled too. Check for programs in your area.

Top 10 Reasons to Recycle

I’ve long been a fan of recycling, but not everyone is. Some think it’s too hard, even in places where recycling is a matter of throwing it in the recycle bin and not the trash can, not a matter of sorting and taking elsewhere. There are plenty of good reasons to recycle.

1. Save trees.

Ok, kind of boring if it’s not your thing. And yes, trees are easily planted, trees are easily farmed, but a replanted forest is no match for an old growth forest. The biodiversity just isn’t there. True recovery for a forest is a matter of far more than putting some trees in the ground.

2. Paper recycling pollutes less water.

In general recycling paper requires less water and fewer chemicals.

3. Reduces the need for landfills.

If you throw it in the trash, most places it goes into the landfill. Not only can landfill space fill up, there can be problems with toxins leaching into the soil from landfills. Throwing it out just isn’t a solution, especially for toxic products.

4. Reduces incinerator use.

Burning trash doesn’t solve the toxic problems. It just puts them into the air people in the surrounding areas breathe.

5. It takes less energy to reuse aluminum.

Making a new aluminum can from old takes less 95% less energy. There are also savings for recycling glass, PET plastic and more.

6. Glass can keep being recycled.

Recycled glass is as good as new glass. The quality doesn’t decrease as it does for some recycled products.

7. Recycling batteries keeps heavy metals out of the environment.

Batteries in the landfill eventually release harmful heavy metals such as mercury and lithium into the environment.

8. Recycling electronics keeps toxic materials out of landfills.

It’s amazing how many toxic materials are in computers and other electronics. Dumping them into landfills allows lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and other materials to be released into the environment.

9. Recycling makes more jobs than landfills.

When products are recycled, jobs are created to sort the recycled materials. There are also jobs with the manufacturers who reuse the recycled materials.

10. Recycling costs less than landfills.

This is a bit of a tricky one, as initial collection and sorting does cost more than putting all the trash in the landfill. However, communities can earn much of that back by selling the reclaimed materials to manufacturers, making the overall cost less.

Here are more resources to help you learn about why you should recycle:

http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/publicworks/recycling/kidspages/toptenrecycle.html
http://www.princeton.edu/~greening/downloads/recycle.pdf

5 Easy Mistakes to Make in the Name of Eco Friendliness

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re trying to be eco friendly. There are a lot of confusing options, and many terms aren’t regulated, so claims of one sort of eco friendliness or another may not mean what you think they mean.

Even the terms “green” or “eco friendly” don’t have significant meanings, although the FTC is looking at how those are used, since so many false and vague claims have been made in those areas. Sometimes the steps you hear to help you be more eco friendly can result in more pollution than what you’re doing right now.

Mistake #1: Buy things you don’t need.

Too often people are prouder of buying something because it said it was eco friendly in one way or another than in actually considering how the product will be eco friendly for them. It’s nice when you buy something produced in an environmentally friendly way, and you’ve done the research to be sure of that, but is the purchase really necessary? Think it over first. The most eco friendly purchase may be the one you don’t make at all.

Mistake #2: Fail to recycle old appliances and electronics.

So you’ve decided it’s time to replace one of your household appliances or electronics. Did your research, found what looks to be an environmentally responsible choice. Now what did you do with the old one?

If you didn’t say send it for recycling, you’ve made a mistake. Many retailers have a take-back program, making recycling pretty easy on your part. The EPA has a Responsible Appliance Disposal program that retailers, local governments and others can participate in.

Computers and other electronics can be more difficult to recycle properly, but it’s not impossible and doesn’t have to be terribly difficult. Many Target locations now have bins to accept old cell phones, MP3 players and so forth. The EPA has a Plug-In to eCycling Campaign, or you can check for electronic waste recycling days set up in your local community.

Mistake #3: Buy what looks eco friendly, without making sure you’ve made the right choice.

Many terms used on product packaging aren’t regulated. They sound good, but unless they have a legal meaning, they may not mean what you think they mean. They may be essentially the same as any other product, just with better eco marketing.

Mistake #4: Prefer recyclable or recycled products to reusable ones.

It’s good to use recycled or recyclable products. Recycling is a big part of being more environmentally friendly, as it keeps waste out of landfills and cuts down on the use of limited resources. But it’s not the biggest part of being environmentally friendly.

Reduce is, but once you’re making the purchase anyhow, reusable trumps recycled or recyclable. Buy reusable water bottles. Reusable shopping bags. Use washrags for cleaning around the house rather than paper towels, even if you’ve bought paper towels made from recycled paper. The same goes for napkins.

Mistake #5: Use pesticides and conventional fertilizers in your garden.

Gardening can be a wonderful, eco friendly activity. It’s also a nice physical activity for you, can make your yard more attractive, and if you plant vegetables or fruits, makes a nice addition to your food supply.

They aren’t so good for the environment if you use conventional pesticides and fertilizers. These can be harmful to the environment, and may leave residues you need to wash off your foods.

You’re better off using natural fertilizers such as compost from the food scraps and yard waste you produce anyhow. Done right, there should be minimal stink from the compost, and you get great soil to use in your garden.

You can also look at safer ways to control pests, such as using ladybugs to control certain other insects, learning about which plants discourage problem insects, and so forth.

Don’t forget the simple things, such as pulling weeds by hand rather than spraying for them. No chemicals needed.

You can buy more environmentally friendly pesticides and fertilizers, but you have to be careful about researching the products you choose.

Caps On or Off for Plastic Bottle Recycling?

Even when you try to avoid plastic bottles, most of us end up dealing with them sometimes. If you’re lucky and live in an area with easy recycling, you can toss them into the recycle bin. If you’re really lucky, they take all types of plastic, not just #1 and #2.

There’s one step that confuses a lot of people. It’s whether or not to remove the lid from their plastic containers before recycling. It’s a different type of plastic. Can the lids be recycled too?

That depends on where you live. The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers says it is more often okay to leave the lids on now, but to check with your local recycler to be certain. Used to be they didn’t want the lids at all, and would toss any bottles with lids rather than take the time to remove the lid. The lids would jam their machinery. Now many of them are willing to deal with the lids. The demand for the type of plastic used in lids has apparently increased over time.

Personally, I don’t like to leave the caps on when I send a bottle for recycling. Not that I have a problem with recycling the lids. It’s just that I think it’s better to let the bottles dry out with the lid off.

You always need to pay attention to the recycling rules in your area. Where I used to live, their flyer only said they too plastics #1 and #2, and only in the shape of a bottle. When my husband talked to some of their representatives at a home expo, he was told they took all types of plastic, including plastic bags.

Where we are now takes plastics #1-7, but absolutely no plastic bags. They provided a great little chart we keep on the fridge that shows what they do and do not accept.

Just as with the rules about plastic caps, the rules for recycling other products can change over time and by where you live. You can’t take the answer from one place and be certain it’s right for another. You have to get answers that are specific to where you’re dealing with the recycling.

Overall, however, I’m just glad to hear that plastic caps can often be recycled. Much as I prefer to avoid using plastic at all, it’s nice to know that when it comes into my life, even that little piece may be able to be recycled. I just have to check the local rules.