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Waxhaw Elementary students honor Earth Day

Paulette Bolden, at right, a cashier at Harris Teeter and a nine-year veteran UCPS bus driver, hands Waxhaw resident Jodie Backley her bag of groceries in a decorated Earth Day bag from Waxhaw Elementary School. Backley said recycling is very important in her household and she is pleased to see the students honoring Earth Day with their artwork.

Waxhaw Elementary School students celebrated Earth Day by making paper grocery bags too pretty to pass up.  

Tiffany Brown, a kindergarten teacher at the school, said the entire school got into the spirit of celebrating Earth Day by decorating more than 500 grocery bags donated by local grocery stores. After decorating the bags on April 17, 20, and 21, Brown returned them to the grocery stores for distribution on Earth Day (April 22, 2009).
“I came across this website as I was looking for a class activity for kindergartners,” Brown said. She found the Earth Day Groceries Project, which was started by Mark Ahlness, a third-grade teacher at Arbor Heights Elementary School in Seattle, Washington.
The Earth Day Groceries Project is a cost-free environmental awareness project in which students decorate paper grocery bags with environmental messages for Earth Day. The decorated bags are handed out to shoppers, an incentive to use paper rather than plastic.
With a thumbs-up from her principal, Cheryl Lawrence, Brown spearheaded the effort involving her entire school. She then approached officials at Harris Teeter and Food Lion, and both donated enough bags so that all Waxhaw Elementary students, more than 500, could have an opportunity to decorate the paper bags with pictures and Earth Day slogans.     

“One parent from Linda Klein’s fourth-grade class at our school went to pick up treats for her child to bring to class and came back to school with one of the bags made from our school,” Brown said. “This was a small way that Waxhaw Elementary School was able to contribute and bring attention to the “Green Movement.”
“The customers are loving these,” said Mary McDonnell, customer service clerk at Harris Teeter. “They’re beautiful. It’s such a good thing to make the next generation aware of how we have to take care of the planet.”    

Catherine Parillo, a Waxhaw parent, was one of the first Harris Teeter customers to get her groceries placed in an Earth Day decorated bag. “I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m a big fan of getting biodegradable and paper bags. If I get plastic, I reuse them.”    

Parillo said the activity teaches students how to improve the environment and ultimately, recycling and taking care of the planet will allow future generations to have longer and healthier lives. “It’s a building block,” she said. “It goes from that to learning about organic foods until ultimately they become stronger human beings. It all starts with recycling and doing your part.” 

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, Publications Coordinator
Posted: Apr 24, 2009 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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