Sustainable Schools: Does Your School or Non-Profit Qualify for a Plastic Free Grant?

By Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

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Time to Read: 8 min

Sustainable Schools

Imagine walking into a school where every lunch tray isn’t just holding food, but also a promise—a promise to protect our planet for all the little feet that roam its corridors. Schools and non-profit organizations are more than just places of learning and aid. They are the foundation for lifelong habits, including those that nurture our environment. 


By adopting sustainable practices like using reusable items, these institutions can lead the way, showing everyone the impact of caring choices.


Plastic-free grants are here to help make this vision a reality. They are designed to support schools and non-profits that are eager to ditch single-use plastics for good, and choosing safer, reusable alternatives instead. If you’re part of a school or a non-profit, this could be your chance to make a lasting difference—not just in your community but for the planet. Let’s find out how your institution can join this green journey, turning everyday actions into lessons of care and responsibility for our world.

About Ahimsa

Founded by a pediatrician and mom of three

Stainless steel is the only kid-friendly material recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics 

We are guided by a Scientific Advisory Council comprised of environmental and medical experts, guiding us in creating the safest products, following the latest science and promoting policy to protect human health and our planet

Want to know more? Check out our story and our products

What Are Plastic Free Grants?

Plastic-free and sustainability grants are more than just financial aid—they're a helping hand extended to those ready to embrace a greener lifestyle in educational and communal spaces. These grants aim to replace the mountains of single-use plastics that are often part of daily operations in schools and nonprofits with sustainable, reusable alternatives. 


From lunch trays to water bottles, every item swapped makes a difference, reducing waste and teaching everyone in the community about the benefits of conservation.


These grants open doors to new possibilities for a school aiming to become a sustainable school. They allow educators to integrate practical lessons on environmental responsibility right at the lunch table, where the impact of their choices can be seen and felt daily. Similarly, non-profits that switch to reusable items can serve as role models in their communities, demonstrating that care for our environment goes hand in hand with caring for each other.


By supporting the shift away from disposables, plastic-free grants provide more than just the tools needed for change—they offer a vision of a cleaner, healthier planet fostered by the institutions that nurture our future leaders.

Is Your School Eligible for a Plastic Free Grant?

Every school dreaming of becoming a sustainable school has the potential to turn that dream into reality with the help of plastic-free grants. But how do you know if your school is eligible? The criteria are straightforward and designed to help as many schools as possible make the switch to reusables.


First, take stock of how much single-use plastics you are using in your school regularly. This is as easy as gathering invoices for the last three months. These documents are important as they provide a snapshot of your current usage and will guide the transition to sustainable alternatives. 


The items you wish to replace should not be mandated by law to be phased out; this grant aims to foster voluntary change, pushing beyond legal requirements to embrace a deeper environmental ethic.


Next, your school will need to choose safe, reusable alternatives. These items should be ones that have been rigorously tested to make sure they're free from harmful chemicals and sturdy enough to handle the bustling school life. By choosing one of these tested products, you make certain that the safety and well-being of your students are guaranteed while also contributing to environmental sustainability.


With these steps, your school can showcase its commitment to a greener future and lead by example, proving that small changes in daily routines can culminate in significant environmental benefits.

How Non-Profits Can Champion Sustainability

Non-profit organizations are often at the forefront of community service, deeply embedded in efforts to enhance the well-being of others. For these organizations, adopting sustainable practices isn't just about environmental impact—it's about setting an example of responsibility and care that aligns with their core missions.


If your non-profit is thinking about how to step up its commitment to the planet, understanding eligibility for a plastic-free grant can be your gateway to impactful change. These grants encourage non-profits to swap out single-use plastics for reusable alternatives that echo their dedication to both community and environmental health.


The criteria for these grants are tailored to encourage a shift toward greener practices subtly. Support is extended particularly to those non-profits that choose reusable items that minimize or eliminate the use of harmful plastics. This not only aids in reducing environmental footprints but also in building sustainable practices that can inspire the whole community.


By integrating these sustainable choices, your non-profit doesn't just help the planet—it sets a standard for environmental stewardship within the community. It shows that every small step towards sustainability can contribute to a larger, positive impact on our world.

Mealtime Essentials

How to Apply for a Sustainability Grant: A Simple Guide

Embarking on the path toward sustainability is a rewarding journey for schools and non-profits, and applying for a grant to support this transition can be your first big step. Here's how you can start this transformative process.

Step One: Collect Your Documentation

Start by gathering any existing documents that reflect your current usage of disposable items. This could include recent invoices, purchase records, or other documents demonstrating your current practices. These records are essential as they set the baseline from which you'll start making changes, and they provide grant providers with a clear picture of your needs.

Plastic Free Grants | Child Holding Tray

Step Two: Fill Out the Application

Next, tackle the application form or survey. This part of the process captures critical information about your organization, such as your operational needs and sustainability goals. Completing this accurately ensures that the grant can be tailored to provide the most effective support for your specific situation.

Step Three: Choose Your Sustainable Alternatives

Finally, you'll often be asked to choose from a selection of approved sustainable products. These products are pre-vetted for environmental benefits and suitable for heavy-use environments like schools or non-profit facilities. Selecting the right products is key to successfully reducing your ecological footprint.


Following these steps will help your institution not only advance its environmental goals but also serve as an inspiration to your community. It demonstrates the practical steps any organization can take towards a sustainable future, making a significant impact both locally and globally.

Embracing Sustainability in Our Schools and Non-Profits

It's clear that every step toward sustainability is not just an environmental act—it's a commitment to future generations. For schools and non-profits, applying for a sustainability grant is a vital step. These grants provide resources to move away from single-use plastics and lead by example in the community.


Each action, from replacing plastic utensils with reusable ones in school cafeterias to using eco-friendly materials in non-profit activities, contributes to a larger global effort to protect our planet. By embracing these changes, your organization educates and inspires others to make similar choices.


We hope this guide encourages your school or non-profit to pursue a sustainability grant, helping pave the way for a greener, more responsible world. Let’s all contribute, one reusable item at a time.


Shop Ahimsa today for plates and more.

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician whose dedication to children’s health drove her to launch Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dishes for kids. She was motivated by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings on harmful chemicals in plastic affecting children's well-being. Ahimsa has gained widespread recognition and been featured in media outlets such as Parents Magazine, the Today Show, The Oprah Magazine, and more.

Dr. Mantravadi received the esteemed “Physician Mentor of the Year” award at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2019. She was also named a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur in 2021, with her inspiring story showcased on Good Morning America. She serves on the Council for Environmental Health and Climate Change and the Council for School Health at The American Academy of Pediatrics. She represents Ahimsa as a U.S. industry stakeholder on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Global Plastics Treaty, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Dr. Mantravadi leads Ahimsa's social impact program, The Conscious Cafeteria Project, to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard student health as part of a national pilot of the Clinton Global Initiative.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering people to make healthier, more environmentally friendly choices at mealtime. Her mission remains to advocate for the health of all children and the one planet we will leave behind for them through real policy change within our food system.

More Mealtime Essentials

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use stainless steel instead of plastic? Is stainless steel better for health?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report in July 2018 suggesting ways that families can limit exposure to certain chemicals at mealtime, including “the use of alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.” The report explained that “…some additives are put directly in foods, while “indirect” additives may include chemicals from plastic, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard”. Further, “Children are more sensitive to chemical exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to body weight, than adults do, and are still growing and developing.” While stainless steel items meet the recommendation to avoid plastic products in children, Ahimsa® products have the obvious advantage of not breaking like glass.

Is stainless steel better for the environment than plastic?

According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel can be recycled over and over and over again without losing its integrity and requires less energy to recycle than to make anew. Most plastic unfortunately ends up in landfills and it is estimated to take 700 years to decompose. Our special coloring process that allows Ahimsa® products to be fully metal is environmentally friendly, so it does not produce toxic run-off into the ecosystem.

Will Ahimsa products break or peel?

No. Our steel is durable, so it won’t break or shatter with everyday use, like glass. And it won’t peel, like other colored stainless steel products you’ve seen. We use a special process that allows the colors to naturally occur in the metal.

Which Ahimsa products are best for my little one(s)?

Our products are meant to last, you can use Ahimsa at ages 1, 8 and 18! We thoughtfully design our products to be safe for little ones and our planet while reducing consumption. Once your child outgrows the Starting Solids Set  and can use regular cups and utensils, the training cup is the perfect size rinse cup in the bathroom, the infant spoon doubles as a tea stirrer and the bowl is great for snacks or as an additional compartment to our modular divided plate. Our plates are great for any age as they encourage choosing a variety of healthy foods at each meal and help visualize portion sizes easily. It’s the lasting beauty of stainless steel - grows with your child and reduces waste.

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