Alternatives to the Car Wash

Dear Kim,

I attended a training through TREC in 2002 and found your classes and your videos fantastic. I continue to read your advice published through the “dear kim” column to get new ideas, etc. However I found your advice in the July 2003’s edition to be unsound. In this issue you recommended that students put on a car wash to get involved in grassroots fundraising. Car Wash fundraisers are incredibly damaging to the environment unless they are properly planned. Car washes should not just be done on a busy intersection, but instead in an area where the stormdrains go to a sewer facility, otherwise, the soap, grease, dirt, and other toxic car fluids go straight into local water ways without treatment. Some alternative options:

1. Often local cities or conservation organizations have “car wash kits” that they will check out for fundraisers in order to redirect waste water to an appropriate location.

2. Check with a local self serve car wash business and ask to use one of their stalls to conduct the car wash fundraiser. Water from professional car washes does go to the local sewer treatment facility.

3. Or third, sell “tickets” to a local professional car wash (not a self serve location). Often you’ll find people will buy not just one car wash, but multiple car washes thus increasing your chances of making money.

Please consider making any of these suggestions for the planning of future car wash fundraisers.

—Alison Studley

Dear Readers,

In my last “Dear Kim” I recommended some fundraising strategies for a person looking for easy and fun things to do with young people. One I recommended was a car wash, and my colleague Alison Studley from Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group responded with the following very helpful critique of my suggestion. I thank her for reminding me (and us) to always think about the environmental impact of what we suggest, and also for describing ways to make the strategy work.
—Kim