Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the Earth Day Groceries Project?
A. The Earth Day Groceries Project is an easy, cost-free environmental awareness project that teams up youth and grocers to protect our planet. To participate, teachers simply borrow paper grocery bags from a local grocery store. Students decorate the bags with environmental messages about reuse, recycling, forestry or wildlife. The bags are then returned to the grocery store and on Earth Day, April 22 of each year, customers receive their groceries— along with the message that kids care about our environment— in the decorated bags.
A. To participate, simply follow these four simple steps:
1. Borrow Paper Bags. Contact a local grocery store that uses paper grocery bags. See if the manager will let you "borrow" enough bags so that each student in your school can decorate one. Let the manager know about the project and its environmental education message, of course!
2. Decorate Paper Bags. Have students use crayons to decorate the bags with friendly environmental messages, such as pictures of the earth of a favorite natural resource.
3. Deliver Paper Bags. Before Earth Day (April 22 each year) return the decorated bags to your grocery store (with many thanks to the manager!). On Earth Day, shoppers receive their groceries--along with the message that kids care about our environment-- in the decorated bags.
4. Register Your Bags. Log on to the project’s website and fill out the short registration form, so your bags will count toward the national tally. Each school’s report will be automatically included in a Random Drawing for a free Prize Package for your school and students.
A. Mark Ahlness, a third grade teacher from Arbor Heights Elementary School in Seattle, Washington, (founder of the Earth Day Groceries Project and this Web site) came across the idea of decorating paper grocery bags for Earth Day while attending a Seattle School District summer workshop in 1993. Working from his home computer, Mark distributed information about the project to two list servs (Ednet and Kidsphere). In 1994 teachers in preschools, elementary, middle and high schools reported that more than 10,000 students from across the U.S. and Canada had decorated over 13,000 Earth Day bags. Mark developed this Web site to help promote the project and environmental awareness.
A. This is a cost free project. No money or special materials required— just time to meet with your local grocer to borrow a supply of paper grocery bags for your students to decorate, and time to return the decorated bags to the grocery in time for Earth Day (April 22 each year).
A. This project is designed to enhance students’ environmental knowledge, along with skills in art, computer science, geography, math and science. It helps educate and empower youth to make a difference in their communities. Participating teachers have reported a strong positive response from the local community, the establishment of a positive relationship with the local grocery store, and often the attention of local media.
A. Any group of students that wants to promote environmental awareness. Classes, schools, Day Care centers, Scout troops, 4-H Clubs, church groups and art clubs have all participated. The project has also been implemented at community events for Earth Day (April 22), Arbor Day and America Recycles Day (Nov. 15).
A. You can download a Certificate of Participation after registering your report. Your groups’ report will be featured on the site, and your bags will be added to this year’s national tally. If you contact your local media, you may get some press coverage too. And don’t forget the reward of being part of an international effort to promote environmental awareness!
A. The Earth Day Groceries Project is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, and is managed online by its founder Mark Ahlness, a third grade teacher at Arbor Heights Elementary School in Seattle, Washington.
A. Just about every environmental and educational organization that learns about it! The Earth Day Groceries Project has been featured in Weekly Reader, Science & Children magazine, Copy Cat magazine, and many local and national newspapers. It has been promoted to teachers via Project Learning Tree and the Society for Developmental Education’s national teacher conferences. The International Educational and Resources Network has helped to spread the word internationally.
A. To increase environmental awareness, to educate and empower youth to make a difference in their communities. And of course, to involve as many schools and students as possible—to start a movement, if you will!
A. Check out these cool Web sites for similar fun, free educational environmental projects:
A. The Internet allows students and teachers from across the globe to quickly and easily exchange ideas and information, and to work together to promote environmental awareness.
A. For cool ideas, check out the suggestions at Educational Support and Starter Kit (click). Deciding what to put on the bags is up to you. Be positive and creative. Use crayons to draw pictures of the earth (use a coffee can lid to trace the circle; show the different contents). Or create catchy Earth Day slogans such as "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." Draw your favorite animal, body of water, mountain or type of tree. Draw pictures of the different types of paper products your community recycles. Remember to check your spelling. Also, it’s okay to include first names on the bags, but NO last names, as the bags will be handed out to strangers.
A. You can read reports from 1995-1999 at Register your Report. You can read a summary of each year on the Facts and Figures section of our Web site. In 1995 about 115 schools from across the US and Canada participated — decorating and distributing over 45,000 Earth Day bags. (Note: Since some students decorated more than one bag, it is difficult to get an accurate count of student participation. A reasonable estimate would be about 40,000 students.
A. This is an annual project. Earth Day is April 22, each year. Check out the Send in Your Report Page to see special promotions for this year.