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When she's not blogging for FundingFactory, Sarah is staying on top of the most current trends in educational technology and green news to share with you on Twitter and Facebook. In her spare time, Sarah is learning how to knit a hat, practicing her German, and re-watching Star Wars.

FundingFactory’s Top 3 Highlights of 2013

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What an outstanding 2013 we had at FundingFactory!  Our recyclers collected a record-breaking 3,709,463 cartridges, cell phones, and small electronics for recycling, and as a result, raised more than $2 million for diverse, worthwhile initiatives. 

So many exciting things happened in 2013 – and we’ve just got to brag about some of our favorites!

Here are our Top 3 highlights of the year:

ecobuddies blog

#1 EcoBuddies make their Earth Day debut

Recycling alone isn’t enough; it’s our responsibility to help kids understand the environmental impact of e-waste and develop eco-friendly habits. That’s why we launched EcoBuddies™, a curriculum companion to FundingFactory’s fundraising-by-recycling program. A collaborative project between FundingFactory, the curriculum designers at The Education Center, and local artist Heather Cash, EcoBuddies provides preK-8 educators free, common core-aligned lesson plans and activities to raise e-waste awareness and empower lasting recycling behaviors.

carbonfund blog

#2 “Act of Green” results in 331,270 items recycled, 3,313 trees planted

In honor of Earth Day 2013, FundingFactory pledged to plant one tree for every 100 items collected during the month of April. Our goal was to plant 3,000 trees, but we received 331,270 items – almost 100,000 more than the previous year! As a result, we planted 3,313 trees with the CarbonFund.org Foundation and helped to fight climate change through reforestation projects.

Manteca High School

#3 Manteca High School wins 4th Annual Recycling Rumble

By collecting 6,535 recyclable items February 1 – April 30, Manteca High School earned $3,268, an iPad, and top honors in FundingFactory’s 2013 Recycling Rumble. Manteca’s winnings helped stock the shelves of the MHS Empty Cartridge Exchange Store with classroom supplies like paper, pens, printers, DVD players, calculators, and thumb drives.

  • FUN FACT: Their store uses Qualifying Items as currency. What a creative way to collect!

While 2013 had its incredible moments, we’re even MORE excited to share the surprises in store for 2014. Keep an eye on FundingFactory social media to get the latest news! A BIG thank you to our participants for their hard work and dedication as they continue to recycle with us. Together, we’re spearheading the Eco-Revolution. Won’t you join us?

What are you doing to go green? Tell us about it in the comments below.


Want to make 2014 your greenest year ever? Whether you’re a college or university, or looking to recycle your school’s tablets or laptops in bulk, we’ll help you get started!


Posted April 15, 2014 by Sarah in FundingFactory News, Fundraising, Green News

Classrooms Teaching Green to Live Green

As a teacher, Brian Lewis knew he had the influential opportunity to establish change at Feagin Mill Middle School in Warner Robins, Ga. Because he clearly demonstrated his commitment to saving the planet, his students did too! This eco-action has led to green practices like recycling with FundingFactory and using the learning platform, Edmodo. Read on to learn how both programs have influenced green changes in his classrooms.

The best way I know how to teach students to recycle is to show them. As a Support Ambassador for Edmodo and a longstanding FundingFactory participant, I know that both programs are great resources for doing just that. Edmodo is one of my big lessons for recycling, while FundingFactory has given me the chance to show my students how we use our money from recycling ink cartridges to purchase apps that we use on Edmodo.

Edmodo Helps Classrooms Reduce Paper Waste

Edmodo is a secure, social learning platform for teachers, students, schools and districts. We provide a safe and easy way for your class to connect and collaborate, share content and access homework, grades and school notices. Our goal is to help educators harness the power of social media to customize the classroom for each and every learner.

Edmodo has helped my classroom go paper-free by allowing students to save work using cloud storage, and by  submitting assignments electronically. This is simple way to save money in my budget and help the planet too!

Sustainability Reports Come Alive With FundingFactory

When students sign in to Edmodo, they can see the school’s sustainability report from recycling with FundingFactory. Students use that information to create a poster promoting our efforts in living green using www.postermywall.com. What brings it full circle is when students can say that they brought in printer cartridges or cell phones. By caring out the action of recycling e-waste, students are able to establish green habits while we earn money to purchase apps for our classroom using FundingFactory credit.


Learn more about how Edmodo can benefit classroom relations by visiting their website and checking out their Facebook. You can track your environmental impact when you register  for FundingFactory’s FREE fundraising-thru-recycling program! Start earning cash for new technology for your school by collecting these items.



Brian Lewis, guest blogger for FundingFactory, is a computer business teacher at Feagin Mill Middle School in Warner Robins, GA. This Green Ribbon School has been a FundingFactory participant since 2009, having earned more than $1,700 recycling e-waste. Brian is an Edmodo Support Ambassador, Smart Certified Trainer for SMART Technologies, SMART Education Administrator, and won a lesson contest from Brainpop.com and received the 2010 PBS Innovation Award.



Posted September 17, 2013 by Sarah in Green News, Recycling

School Raises $25,800 for New Technology through Recycling Competition

waugh classWhat do ice cream, an octopus, and recycling have in common? They all come together to create one unique success story for FundingFactory participant, Waugh Elementary School District in Petaluma, Calif.

Diana Utroske, classified tech support for the Waugh Elementary School District, has successfully organized an e-waste collection competition each year since October 2002 that has raised $25,800 for her school!

This year-long recycling competition pins the two elementary schools in the district, Corona Creek and Meadow, against each other in a battle of e-waste collection. Just how does this work? Here’s the scoop:

  • Each class works together to collect as many qualifying items as possible from August through April. Students receive one point per item no matter if it’s a large toner cartridge or a small inkjet cartridge.
  • Parents help too! If they bring in an item from a business, and it has a corresponding business card attached, that student earns an additional five points toward their class’s total score. This act also serves as a great way to reach out to the community and find valuable Business Support for the school.
  • Once every cartridge has been counted, the top two classrooms with the most e-waste are treated to homemade ice cream from a local creamery.


FUN FACT: The winning class collected 911 items in the 2012-2013 school year!


With $25,800 of extra funding brought in from this recycling competition, Diana has been able to purchase 16 color printers, new computers, headphones, laptops, and more cartridges for the Waugh Elementary School District. All of these items are put to good use now that Waugh 2nd grade teachers are using FundingFactory EcoBuddies™ curriculum to educate students during the competition!


Learn how Owen the Octopus can help educate your preK-5th-grade students about recycling e-waste as they carry out ecofriendly acts.


Diana also had the chance to share her fundraising story as a guest of FundingFactory at ISTE 2013, one of the largest educational conferences in the country.



Posted September 17, 2013 by Sarah in FundingFactory News, FundingFactory Stories, Fundraising, Recycling

Heather Cash Talks EcoBuddies and E-waste with FundingFactory

Heather Cash has always had a passion for art. She references her dad’s passing in 2010 as her inspiration for leaving her career at Google to pursue art as a full time endeavor.  Heather has since illustrated a children’s book, written and illustrated her own coloring book, taught painting classes, and most recently, created and illustrated EcoBuddies TM for FundingFactory. Read on to learn more about why it was important for her to create this e-waste-fighting team, and what she hopes children learn from them.

FF: What was your main goal with creating and illustrating EcoBuddies?

HC: I aimed to give them fun personalities and to use a multitude of colors that would draw the children in and make them want to learn more about the characters. I knew that if they got to know the characters, they would care about them, and listen to what they have to say about e-waste.

FF: How did you even begin to create the e-waste fighting characters? Did you already have ideas for them?

HC: I knew that these characters should care about the Earth and want to help, so I thought about which animals would be the most affected by a bad environment. The first animals I thought of were those in the water because they have nowhere to go, they can’t run from pollution. I knew an octopus would be helpful because he has so many tentacles, so he could clean up faster than the other animals! I had to include a sea turtle because it make me sad when I’d hear about them being affected by soda rings.

FF: Which EcoBuddy was your favorite to create? 

HC: I loved creating the octopus! For some reason my most common drawing as a child was an underwater scene with an octopus, sand on the bottom, coral, seaweed, and other little critters like fish and jellyfish. Because the octopus has been in my head since I was a child, I knew he was destined to be an EcoBuddy!

FF: In your opinion, what makes EcoBuddies so appealing to children?

HC: I think children are drawn to the bright colors and bold lines of EcoBuddies. I also think their friendly faces contribute to their appeal. At their core, EcoBuddies are just friendly, helpful, and happy. Who wouldn’t want a friend like that?

FF: What makes FundingFactory EcoBuddies different from any other e-waste fundraiser out there?

HC: EcoBuddies is geared towards educating children. I was amazed when I saw the entire curriculum made to teach preK-5 students about e-waste! Just chatting with the team at FundingFactory, you can hear how passionate and confident they are about this program.

FF: Share your thoughts on e-waste.

HC: People don’t understand the consequences of throwing out an inkjet cartridge or cell phone. If people were educated on e-waste, they would realize just how much trash we’re creating every year. With the way electronics are advancing, people are constantly getting new phones and new computers, so this results in tons of e-waste.

FF: Why is it important for younger kids to understand the importance of e-waste recycling?

HC: Some of us may not be around long enough to see the effects of e-waste, but our children will be. If they get in the habit of being responsible about e-waste early on, then the whole world will benefit from their efforts. FundingFactory EcoBuddies is a great route to take to help your students do just that!

Learn more about Heather Cash by visiting her website, and see her EcoBuddies in your classroom today!

Want EcoBuddies in your classroom? The preK-5 curriculum, displays, and posters are available for FREE download when you register your school for FundingFactory‘s already FREE e-waste recycling fundraiser. 

Posted May 8, 2013 by Sarah in FundingFactory News, FundingFactory Stories

University of Tampa Sustainability

The University of Tampa was recently honored with the “Preserving a Legacy” award by Florida’s Urban Forestry Council for transplanting a 65-foot, 36-inch diameter oak tree.  We spoke recently with Associate Professor of Biology and member of the UT Sustainability Committee, Dan Huber, on the university’s recycling initiatives.


Q. How has creating a green environment benefited your students?

A.  It has benefited our students by instilling in them an ethic of environmental stewardship, and a mentality through which we all acknowledge our roles as custodians of the environment as opposed to consumers. This approach also encourages fiscal responsibility as conservation of resources saves money.

Q. How are recyclable materials collected on your campus?

A. The University has two single stream recycling bins on campus for cardboard, paper, plastic containers, aluminum cans, steel containers, juice cartons, and glass. There are also around 30 bins that collect printer, copier, and other paper products for our shredding and recycling program.

Recently, the student group PEACE, (People Exploring Active Community Experiences), helped bring in an additional 16 can and bottle recycling centers for the campus. We also have a Pepsico Dream Machine that allows the students to earn points for every bottle or can they recycle at the kiosk and they can redeem the points for local discounts on entertainment and dinning.

Q. How is the collection of waste communicated to students?

A. We recently sponsored the first annual Forum-to-Action (F2A) Program at UT. F2A is coordinated by Focus the Nation, a national nonprofit organization committed to clean energy leadership development. The program prepares students to moderate high level multi-sector panel discussions on campus that develop and implement dynamic solutions in their local community.

 Student environmental groups have also held bottle exchanges. Students could trade three throwaway plastic bottles and receive a free reusable water bottle.

 Student groups also got other students to sign a sustainability pledge during the Green Apple Day of Service. They were committing to change every day behaviors in accord with our philosophy of environmental stewardship.

Q. Do you believe there is a financial benefit to going green?

A. Absolutely. However, it often requires a significant initial investment to reap savings over the lifetime of a sustainability innovation. Over the past several years the university has consistently installed energy savings devices around campus that will reduce energy consumption and utility expenses.

The centralized design of some of these devices has the added benefit of reduced labor and maintenance costs over smaller individualized systems.  A few examples would be the central chiller plan. It makes the campus  air conditioning function more efficiently, and also a condensation collection system, which  provides water for campus irrigation. Furthermore, new construction on campus is being done in accord with LEED standards.

Q. How has the community responded to your green efforts? 

A. In the spring of 2012, we had a Clean Energy Forum that was well received by  local groups. Through the College of Business, we have had a long-standing association with Earth Charter, a sustainability nonprofit. This association led to the formation of the Sustainable Business Awards, which have been given to businesses in the Tampa Bay community over the past several years.

Q. Are there any lessons you believe the education community can learn from your experiences?

A. Changing the culture of a university is not easy, but with a grass-roots approach and an unyielding belief that people will do the right thing because it is the right thing to do,  you can slowly move a mountain.


This guest post was provided by Paul Warren. Paul is an education professional and a writer for U.S. News University Directory and covers news on master’s in education programs.

Posted April 22, 2013 by conor in Uncategorized


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