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Green Your Car Wash
Traditional car wash fundraisers can cause water pollution if wash water flows to the storm drain. Water from washing cars not only contains dirt and soap, but also oil, grease, and metals such as copper, nickel, and zinc. Dirty wash water from car wash fundraisers held in parking lots or on the street flows into the storm drains and goes straight to local creeks and the Bay without any treatment. Instead of sending soap, dirt and car grim down storm drains, here are a few suggestions:
Partner with a Commercial Car Wash
Commercial car washes, including those at gas stations, drain wash water to local wastewater treatment facilities that remove pollutants. Commercial car washes also use water efficient technology, and often recycle the wash water.
Contact local commercial car washes for discounted passes that you can sell at a higher price to raise funds.
Hold the event at a commercial car wash and ask them to donate part of the profits if you help to advertise.
Partner with a self-serve car wash to host the event at their facility and wash cars for tips.
Improving the Impact of Traditional Car Washes
If you still want to hold a traditional car wash fundraiser, here’s what you can do to minimize the polluted runoff and conserve water:
Avoid using soap and other chemicals (such as spray-on wheel cleaners). Even biodegradable soap can be toxic to wildlife.
Pour your bucket of soapy water down a sink or toilet or onto landscaping when you are finished.
Use waterless carwash products.
Wash cars on a field instead of a parking lot, so soapy water will not run into storm drains, streets or gutters.
Use rags to wipe brake dust off of wheels before washing.
Use a low flow nozzle on your hose to conserve water.
If you must host your car wash fundraiser on a paved surface:
Purchase storm drain protection mats to place on nearby storm drains and block water from entering.
Use a wet/dry vacuum or sump pump to collect the accumulated water.
Drain collected water to nearby landscaping, grass or dirt area.
For questions, please call 408-945-3000.
Recycling Collection Fundraisers
There are many organizations that pay schools for collecting printer cartridges, cell phones, small electronics and even juice boxes and snack wrappers. These kinds of fundraisers help reduce waste in the greater community, and encourage families to recycle items they might otherwise throw away. See the Resources List below for a small sample of companies that offer the fundraisers.
There are many companies that offer school fundraising opportunities. This list is not intended to be complete, or an endorsement by the City of San José.
Services / Fundraisers Offered
Cartridges for Kids
Pays schools and non-profit organizations cash for empty laser and inkjet cartridges, used cell phones, laptops, PDAs, GPS devices and iPods.
Recycle printer cartridges and cell phones and track your earnings online. You can receive a check or shop the company's Rewards Catalog.
Office Depot – "Recycling Rules" Program
Earn Office Depot gift cards by collecting all brands of ink, toner and small electronic for recycling.
Get paid for hard-to-recycle items such as empty juice packs, zip-type bags and snack wrappers. The company makes new items out them: such as clipboards, plastic fencing, insulated coolers and more.
Chinook Book is a one-of-a-kind green resource — an annual guide and coupon book that promotes healthy green living and community vibrancy. Schools can sell Chinook Books as a fundraiser for school projects, trips and activities.For more information, please contact the Community Outreach Manager, Kira Pascoe by
or phone at (510) 550-8280.
200 E. Santa Clara St.
San José, CA 95113
408 535-3500 Main
408 294-9337 TTY
The City of San José
is committed to open and honest government and strives to consistently meet the community’s expectations by providing excellent service, in a positive and timely manner, and in the full view of the public.
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