Common Cents: Material Trades Teach Kids about Money & Sustainability

Jan 8, 2019 - 12:29 pm

By Valerie Vines

Austin Materials Marketplace (AMM) has been helping even the youngest of start-ups reap the benefits of the circular economy.

Moolah U, one of AMM’s newest participants, uses entrepreneurial summer camps to teach business basics and financial literacy to kids ages seven through 16.  Over the course of a typical week, Moolah U guides campers through pitching product ideas, applying for venture capital micro-loans, and producing and selling original merchandise. This past summer, they encouraged their young entrepreneurs to create upcycled products from materials listed on the Austin Materials Marketplace.

The kids’ final creations included:

  • Bags made from recycled fabric tiles
  • Fridge magnets decorated with old magazine clippings
  • Computer cases composed of old City of Austin Transportation department banners

The camp strives to include sustainability  themes in their curriculum, which is largely inspired by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Because Moolah U’s 2018 focus was Goal 12: Responsible Production and Consumption, camp directors wanted to impart the importance of reuse within the business environment. Gayle Reaume, CEO of Moolah U, noted that the camp aims to “create a culture of caring by teaching kids to think through all costs, including environmental, of the products and services their business is selling”.

Partnering with AMM helped the kids learn first-hand that in successful enterprises, economic and environmental sustainability are symbiotic. The economic benefit of recycling was sure to have made an impression; the campers got to keep any revenue generated by their week-long businesses, so any money not spent on raw materials was money in their pockets. Who says you can’t be a business mogul and an environmental steward at the same time?

As Moolah U can attest, a business (or business owner) is never too young to start incorporating sustainability. Large or small, AMM has something for all entrepreneurs; to see what recycled materials are currently available, visit to sign up for the program.