Static-cling reminders power growth of ConservingNow
A little static-cling reminder that encourages shoppers to take their reusable bags with them into a store is helping to power growth of a Reno-based business that devotes all of its profits from product sales to classroom education programs.
ConservingNow has distributed more than 175,000 free static-clings reading “Bring Your Own Bag” that shoppers place on the driver-side window of their vehicle.
And when consumers sign up to receive the static-cling reminder, they spend time at ConservingNow.com, a Web site that retails reusable bags and related items such as T-shirts and door-hangars that remind folks to bring their own bags to the store.
Profits from the online sales, in turn, finance classroom kits that include decorate-your-own reusable bags and other tools that help children learn about environmentally responsible lives.
“We were blown away. We could not believe the traffic to the site,” says co-founder Gayle Crowell, a one-time teacher who became a Silicon Valley executive before she returned to Reno.
She created ConservingNow in late 2009 with her daughter, Meghan, a San Francisco lawyer.
Gayle Crowell says the mother-and-daughter team is motivated by a belief that small changes in habits can have a significant effect.
“Individual single changes, when done collectively, can have a huge impact on the environment,” she says.
ConservingNow, for instance, figures that a typical American household uses 500 to 1,500 plastic bags per year and recycles only about 15 of them.
If everyone who received one of the company’s static-cling reminders relies entirely on reusable bags, the Crowells say their company has eliminated the use of more than 140 million plastic bags.
Although ConservingNow is organized as a for-profit venture, it functions more like a nonprofit.
The only reason that it officially hasn’t become a nonprofit, Gayle Crowell says, is the need to spend time doing the paperwork required by the IRS and state officials.
The company’s marketing has relied on a combination of social media and corporate sponsorships.
Gayle Crowell says the static-cling reminders and classroom kits have drawn substantial attention from mommy-bloggers and eco-bloggers, and the company has more than 12,000 fans on Facebook.
Its efforts got a boost, too, from corporations that partnered with ConservingNow on sponsorship or co-branding deals.
The accounting firm of Grant Thornton, for instance, worked with the company to send reusable bags and reminders to its employees.
An East Coast credit union worked with ConservingNow on a co-branding arrangement on classroom kits provided to teachers.
Those corporate programs, along with donations by parents and others, are joined with the profits from the ConservingNow.com product sales to finance the $50 classroom kits.
The company also has partnered with local governments as well as groups such as Girl Scout troops and 4-H clubs.
Crowell, the company’s sole employee in northern Nevada, says ConservingNow has received substantial volunteer help from others who share the environmental vision of its founders.
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