As Pepsi's Refresh Challenge Rolls On, Green Causes Vie for Funding


Photo: Terry Ross under a Creative Commons license.

In January, we told you about Pepsi's Refresh Everything initiative, giving away $20 million in grants to individuals, businesses and non-profits that are working for change in six categories: health, arts and culture, food and shelter, the planet, neighborhoods, and education. The grants are awarded by popular vote: every month, the top submissions are those funded.

Over the past five months, over 160 ideas have received grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000. And while a lot of great causes have gotten cash, it seems as if the environmental ideas are falling behind. To date, only six have been funded, for a total of $160,000. That's not to say there's a lack of great ideas: winners from the "planet" category are installing wind turbines in Iowa, recycling t-shirts into shopping bags to raise funds for rescued animals, and retrofitting school buses to improve their gas mileage. And there are a lot of green ideas still fighting for funding. The current leaders in votes for the $250,000 grant include a green limousine service, empowering youth clean energy leaders at Power Shift 2011, and recycling animal poop into compost and fertilizer at the Miami Zoo (it's amazing what can be done with poop!).

This video pitch from the "Zoo Doo" project is worth a look:

Even outside the planet category, however, a lot of the ideas funded and in the running are great examples of green practices and sustainability. In the Denver community garden that won $25,000 and Recylcle Here!, a Detroit-based program that's working to bring recycling to all of the city's public schools, we can see that the idea of sustainability is moving into in all areas of life.

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