Friday, May 2, 2008

Wielding Power

As "PTA President," Enviro-Girl freely admits to having political agendas and using her position to achieve certain goals. One of her Pet Projects is "Shop Locally Owned and Operated." To this end, she refuses to allow Student Appreciation Committee members to shop for popcicles and cookies at Sam's Club. Yes, she realizes the she's denying their nonprofit organization great savings, BUT, she points out, the local grocery store is the place that donates our Brain Bowl lunch and sponsors our town's Park & Rec soccer and baseball teams. It seems to her fundamentally wrong to spend money at a corporately-owned franchise in another city while asking the local guy to donate to their various causes throughout the year.

"Shop Locally Owned and Operated" extends to fundraisers, too. "Why should we sell wrapping paper made in Texas when we can sell Simon's Cheese made a few miles down the road?" Enviro-Girl reasons. "Let's get creative, ladies, and keep those dollars in the community so we all benefit!" Consequently, the children of Happyland Elementary never go door to door peddling magazine subscriptions and candles. Through alternative fundraising techniques, Enviro-Girl is proud to point out that the PTA's coffers have tripled since she took office, despite her "limitations" on fundraisers.

Enviro-Girl has engaged in tussles with school administrators, and raised a few issues to the school board, too. She's trying to reform the PTA from merely raising money and hostessing events like the Sock Hop and Happyland Family Fun Night into a political powerhouse. Her dream is to see a rotation of PTA members at every school board meeting advocating for new (read: not broken) playground equipment, more funds allocated to curriculum development (read: instead of the annual budget cuts), and improved technology in the classrooms (read: classrooms need more than 1 computer). Enviro-Girl treads lightly, however, realizing that this violates Happyland's PTA long and distinguished history of Not Aggravating Others. She's cautiously and steadily molding political activists.

Last week Enviro-Girl used her power to benefit another Pet Project--abolishing bottled water. It comes as no surprise to people who know Enviro-Girl that she thinks bottled water is wasteful, redundant, and polluting. She has a close friend who took on Nestle Corporation to keep a water bottling plant out of Wisconsin and she presses people she knows to refuse bottled water and drink the tap water they've already paid for. Bottled water is a Huge Environmental Issue.

The PTA Vice-President emailed Enviro-Girl asking how much bottled water she should purchase for Staff Appreciation Week (the PTA organizes a breakfast and a lunch for Happyland Elementary's staff). Enviro-Girl saw the opening and jumped on it. "Why don't we invest in some 2 or 5-gallon beverage coolers and fill them with juice, lemonade, iced tea and water? We could use the coolers at all PTA events--5th grade graduation, staff meals, and the Sock Hop," she suggested. "I realize it would cost more upfront, but in the long run we would save money and reduce waste generated by plastic bottles. What do you think?"

The Vice-President had not thought, not because she is a bad or destructive person, simply because she doesn't give environmental issues much consideration. When presented with the issue, the Vice-President agreed. "I'll go price out some coolers--that's a great idea" she replied. And she did. (Which goes to show how most people are easy converts for environmental causes.)

Beginning next week the Happyland PTA will no longer purchase bottled water for its events. Enviro-Girl is pleased with this small victory and looks forward to eliminating bottled water from the Park and Rec League soon.


  1. This absolutely warms my heart for so many reasons. Buying local, not supporting the Big Box retailers. Cutting back on waste (and spending) by not buying bottled water. It just goes to show how much power that each one of us has and the good we can do with it.

  2. I too believe in purchasing locally when trying to fundraiser or even better yet, purchase something for a school/day care center. The idea of purcasing locally is becoming more and more "friendly" in my town, due to the cost of gas to get to a big box retailer. When putting #'s to #'s the cost isn't that great. YOU GO GIRL

  3. What a great PTO president...I agree with everything you are doing!! n

  4. Hurray for Enviro Girl! (I imagine Enviro-Girl wearing a cape like Super Woman when she is doing all this.) People DON'T think, they just do what they have gotten used's just takes someone pointing it out gently to get people thinking again

  5. Can I still come over and play if we get those huge 5 gallon jugs of spring water delivered to our house once a month? We put it in reusable containers, but I'm sorry, even with a filter I cannot drink our disgusting tap water.

    The town of 200 people where I grew up had the best water ever. Hard as nails, full of minerals and tasted just like our delivered spring water (and it really is spring water, not distilled tap water--we have local springs here).

    Still friends?

  6. Such good things you're doing out there, GGCH! Now check out my blog from tonight and see my kitchen...maybe~

  7. You go girl! Go local. Boo bottled water!!!

  8. Brava, girl! I also like the idea of selling reusable shopping bags as a school fundraiser. They could be printed locally (though the manufacturing would depend on what's around you), and before long, a lot more people would be using them.

    You're an inspiration.

    I have been trying hard to be mindful of my waste and buying local for a while but on New Years I decided that I needed to try harder. I have stopped with the plastic bags, and have been trying to get The Hubs off bottle water. This last month I decided that I would try buying local only. Let me tell you how much of a challenge that's been in the burbs. It's been a fun challenge and very interesting.
    Can't wait to read through the rest of your past and future blogs Timi

  10. Enviro-Girl, think bigger than local. Your ideas could be instituted by PTA teams elsewhere... imagine the snowball effect! Isn't there a PTA Pres "Bat Phone" somewhere so you can bring the other PTA Presidents into the current century?

  11. I'm so with you on cutting the waste out of PTA. MY pet project is a distribution list so that families don't get 3 copies of EVERYTHING. Also love the fundraising ideas. We are giving up the wrapping paper this year and trying a walk-a-thon. I think it will be successful, I'm just glad I don't have to buy stuff so thay my kids can get a koosh ball

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