Friday, November 2, 2012

School fundraiser does more harm than good

Anyone who has children is familiar with the annual school fundraisers. Almost all schools have at least one fundraiser and I understand the reasoning. Budget cuts and minimal funding for programs like art and music have forced the schools to be creative in how they ask parents for money.

Over the years my son has brought home packets with everything from cookie dough, wrapping paper, See’s candy, and the infamous magazine subscriptions. So you can imagine how happy I was to see that this year’s fundraiser was for reusable shopping bags and totes that were made from recycled products. Wonderful!

I was ready to buy all my Christmas gifts and share the fundraiser with my coworkers, but then the little voice in my head told me to look deeper. I went to the company’s website and searched for the about page.

I was shocked when I began to read what it said. - Shocked at the ignorance more than anything else.

Made from woven polypropylene - one of the most popular plastics for making food containers like yogurt cups. 10-40% of the polypropylene used in our bags is recycled from post consumer use. Most of our bags hold up to 50 lbs, which is due to the plastic fibers woven into the bags. Made in China.

Wait, was I reading this correctly? Made in China?

Why on earth would I or anyone buy a product that is supposed to be eco-friendly from a California company that has the product made in China? The thousands of miles on diesel burning cargo ships and the trees that are destroyed to make the shipping crates are not eco-friendly. The size of the carbon footprint left to have a recycled product made in China, only to be sold in the United States is enormous in comparison to making the recycled product here. We strive to cut carbon emissions on our local streets, but pretend that the emissions made on the ocean don’t exist.

My son’s school fundraiser ends today and I sent the envelope back as instructed. Not with an order form or payment, but rather a note to the school.

Please consider another fundraiser next year. Although the bags are nice, there is no point in buying a recycled product that is manufactured in China. The pollution and environmental impact of transporting goods from overseas defeats the purpose of making and buying eco-friendly products. Thank you.

So I’m curious, do you ever look to see where the eco-friendly products you buy are made?

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