Twenty years ago tomorrow, I started The Earth Day Groceries Project. It began in the spring of 1994, via email, with an invitation for schools to join in, and a request – to share their experiences.
By the fall of 1994, it was hosted on a website (my school’s – see right), and we were off… If you click on that picture, you’ll be able to read the very first reports that schools sent in.
Over the years, the project got its own website, was a 501(c3), and became international. Its idea spread, and people often found out there was an actual website after doing the project for years.
Tens of thousands of schoolchildren all over the world have decorated grocery bags for Earth Day, returned them to the loaning grocery stores, and proudly watched millions of bags being taken home by shoppers on Earth Day.
There have been contests, posters, radio interviews, TV spots, newspaper stories, conference presentations, articles in magazines, citations in many books, and even a question on a standardized test (yikes!).
And reports continue to come in (man, if anybody knows why this is so popular in Romania, please let me know!).
I continue to run the project, but this is the first year in the past 20 that I have not decorated grocery bags with a third grade class, as I retired last year. As much as I miss that, I continue to be buoyed up by the spirit of excitement, that “can do” attitude so often present in reports that teachers send in.
But what really gets me, what really makes me happy, are the pictures, with smiles on the faces of children from all over the world, as they proudly display their works of environmental art – that they will give away to strangers – to educate them, to tell them it’s Earth Day – to make the world a better place.
Happy Earth Day – Mark