When the school fundraising brochures come home in my boys’ backpacks, I put them right in the recycling bin. The items are overpriced, and the items sold are usually not environmentally friendly. The various foods sold are usually poor quality, too.


And, don’t get me started about the poor-quality prizes — made in who-knows-what country under who-knows-what conditions — that are dangled in front of 7-year-olds to get them to beg their parents to let them sell.


Before my boys were in school, neighborhood kids sold me flower bulbs that never bloomed, microwave popcorn that wouldn’t pop, and something called “The World’s Best Cheesecake” that tasted so much like plastic we didn’t eat it. It was enough to convince me never to try to sell these items to my friends and neighbors — even before concern for the environment came into play.


My contribution to fundraising is co-chairing the book fair each year at the elementary school. I could possibly be convinced to participate in some of the other fundraisers if they made more sense to me. Here are a few that might get me to consider selling.

  • Growums – Growums are garden kits that are fun, simple learning tools that teach children and adults about growing their own food. Each kit has seeds that work together in a theme so the fruits of the garden can create pizza, taco, ratatouille, salad, stir-fry, or herbs. Kits are sold for $10 and schools get what is called a “generous portion;” plus a portion of each kit sold gets donated to help feed hungry children.
  • Saving Dinner Fundraiser - This fundraiser not only has the goal of raising money for the school; it also wants to help families in the community get back to the dinner table. Digital menu planners and recipes are packaged by theme (Busy Mom, Gluten-Free, Frugal and more), and people can check out the packages online. All purchasing of the products are done online, so there is a lot less paperwork and hassle for the fundraising chairs to deal with.
  • Chicobag Fundraising – I love my reusable Chicobags, and the company is one that I support wholeheartedly. They offer a bag fundraiser for schools with a risk-free 50 percent return on their investment. They also offer a curriculum that allows teachers to tie environmental education into the fundraising.

What other smarter, greener school fundraising programs are you aware of? 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Smarter, greener school fundraising
Forget expensive wrapping paper and cheesecakes — these school fundraisers make a lot more sense for the students, the community and the environment.