Spotlight on green fundraising

It's up to all of us to do our bit in the fight against climate change - including PTAs

What is green fundraising?

Gone are the days when caring for the planet meant turning down a plastic straw and giving yourself a pat on the back. With the climate crisis impossible to ignore, many of us are assessing every aspect of our lives and how we can live more responsibly. Whether it’s ditching sales of non-recyclable wrapping paper, or using a bank with strong ethical credentials, many PTAs are looking at ways their fundraising efforts can make life better for their school and for the planet.

The number of days in the year when the mercury hits 50°C has doubled since the 1980s, meaning climate change is a fully-fledged emergency. If at first the situation seems hopeless, there’s plenty that can be done – starting with our wallets. Consumers are becoming more aware that how they spend their money has a huge impact on the environment. Many people are swapping fast fashion for second-hand clothes, and ditching single-use bottles for refillables. But it isn’t only affecting the money they spend on the high street, it’s their spending everywhere – which is good news that PTAs can use to their advantage. With the right green credentials, your fundraiser rakes in the money while people feel they’ve done a good deed at the same time.

6 ideas for easy green fundraisers

  • Meat-free challenge – children can get sponsored for how many days they can go without meat
  • Flower bulb fundraiser – entice the dwindling bee population back with sales of bee-friendly flowers
  • Fairtrade bake sale – get children to whip up some treats with a conscience using only Fairtrade goods
  • Second-hand clothing sale – it used to be called a jumble sale, but use buzzwords like ‘vintage’, ‘pre-loved’ and ‘swishing’ and you’ll have people queuing to get involved
  • Sponsored litter pick – make the environment a better and safer place with an organised litter pick
  • Spring clean – encourage people to have a clear out of things they might not have thought could be recycled (see facing page).

Before you hold an event

Ask the school if you can tie in a fundraiser to what’s being taught on the curriculum for maximum impact – such as a meat-free challenge while learning about deforestation.

Assess what facilities you already have, and make a note of what you might need to improve things - for instance, do you have enough recycling bins?

Consider investing in crockery – or ask parents to donate their old, mismatched cups and plates – to reduce the need for disposables.

Get the word out that you’re keen to make your event as eco-friendly as possible and suggest ways you’d like that to happen, such as avoiding excess packaging or alternatives to cheap plastic toys given as prizes at the summer fair.

In detail: how to go green

Big or small, make your next event as eco-friendly as possible

  • Send invitations by email or social media, to save on paper
  • Encourage people to travel to the event on foot or on public transport, rather than by car. If a car journey is unavoidable, suggest car-pooling
  • If you’re selling tea and coffee at your event, tell people in advance there’ll be a discount if they bring their own mug
  • Don’t serve bottled water – instead, set up filling stations with a couple of jugs of tap water
  • Ditch the plastic straws in favour of paper ones; even better, sell metal ones
  • Consider using biodegradable tableware and cutlery, rather than single-use disposable alternatives
  • If you’re decorating the hall for an event, make sure the decorations can be recycled
  • Provide clearly labelled recycling bins at the event.

Recycling resources

Clothing and textiles: There’s no shortage of companies offering to buy old clothes and textiles from your school; some are national while others are region-specific. Recycle 4 School offers BoxDrops, an external bank or a one-off bag collection depending on your needs. UK Textile Recycling offers banks for clothes, shoes, accessories, sheets, curtains and towels. Happy School Bag collects clothing, shoes and accessories to sell to secondhand markets overseas. Kids Just Recycle installs branded clothing collection bins and sells pre-loved clothing overseas and in the UK; they also buy your old collection bins and refurbish them.

Food packaging: TerraCycle specialises in hard-to-recycle waste, partnering with various brands and retailers to tackle packaging which isn’t taken in kerb-side recycling. They operate the country’s largest crisp packet recycling scheme, with 1,600 drop-off points around the country – money raised goes to the organisation of your choice. They’ve also teamed up with various brands and retailers including Acuvue, Carex, Colgate, Flash and Gillette.

Mobiles: Frequent phone upgrades mean electronic waste is a big problem. There’s no shortage of companies who’ll buy your old phone, but it can be difficult to know if you’re getting a good deal. Freedom Mobiles compares the leading online mobile recyclers, so you can make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Batteries: While some councils collect batteries as part of kerb-side recycling, in most areas you need to take them to a recycling centre or collection point as they’re classed as hazardous waste. Shops that sell more than 32kg batteries a year must also provide recycling points for them, so you’ll often be able to drop them off while doing the weekly shop. Or request a free battery collection box from Recycle More, which they will collect and empty for free once it’s full.

Books: Companies who will take books off your hands in exchange for cash include WeBuyBooks, musicMagpie, SimplySellBooks, Zapper and Ziffit.

Currency: If you have any foreign coins which have been gathering dust, Cash4Coins promises the best rates in the UK. Leftover Currency also exchanges old coins and notes, including pre-euro currency such as Spanish pesetas and French francs.

Printer cartridges: Turn your old empty cartridges into a money-spinner – Empties Please, Recycle4Charity and The Ink Bin all recycle them. Don’t just limit yourself to the school – ask parents to drop off their empty cartridges, and approach local businesses to see if they’d like you to take their empties off their hands too.