How to Make the Bags

Date: Tue, 29 Mar 1994 18:38:09 -0800 (PST)
Subject: How to make Earth Day Grocery Bags

Thanks for your interest in making Earth Day Grocery Bags. Here's how we've done it in the past:

1. Contact the manager of a local grocery store (more meaningful to all involved if it's a store where families in your school shop).
2. Ask if you can have a "bundle" (that's 500!) of large paper grocery bags to decorate for Earth Day at your school. Explain that you'll return them a day or two before Earth Day (April 22). It might be helpful to bring along an already decorated bag to show. It's also helpful if the bags you get have one blank (or pretty clear) side.
3. Deciding who will make the bags and what they will look like is up to you. We've tried to make ours look somewhat uniform and still leave some room for individual expression. I made a few templates of the earth from different angles showing the continents out of three pound coffee can lids. The kids could then trace the "earth" and color in (actually, markers are more ecologically correct than crayons) the oceans and continents. We also had our school name sort of encircle the earth. When we distributed the bags and templates to classrooms, we also sent along a couple of examples of completed bags and some suggestions for slogans, like "Earth Day, 1994", "Save Our Earth", "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", etc. Some kids wanted to put their names, classroom number, etc. on, and we said fine, just NO LAST NAMES. I have had small groups of students distribute the bags and do a brief demonstration in each classroom.
4. When the bags are collected from classrooms, I had some decisions to make regarding spelling accuracy and how that might reflect on our school, but I would say 99% of the bags went out "as is".
5. Delivering the bags to the store has been really quite fun for the class, and was a good public relations opportunity for our school as well. You might let your school and grocer know that others across the country (so far, from Alaska to Maryland) are also doing the same thing!
Good luck with your bags, and please remember to send me a note saying how many bags you decorated. I'll send you the total number of bags made by the end of April. Have a great Earth Day!
Mark Ahlness
Arbor Heights Elementary School
Seattle, Washington