Support the Earth Day Groceries Project

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By participating in the Earth Day Groceries Project, you can help promote environmental awareness in your community. In this activity, schoolchildren all over the world decorate large, paper grocery bags with drawings and environmental messages.

Grocers donate the bags to schools, and students decorate the sacks and return them to the stores. On Earth Day, April 22nd, clerks fill the bags with customers' groceries. Instead of taking the items home in plain brown sacks, customers leave with bags decorated with original artwork!

Since the Earth Day Groceries Project is intended to be a group activity, you should tell your classroom teacher about it. If you're schooled at home or are a member of a youth group, scout troop, 4-H, or a girls' or boys' club, have your parent or adult leader make the necessary contacts.

Full details can be obtained by visiting the Earth Day Groceries Project Web site, which is hosted by the Arbor Heights Elementary School in Seattle, Washington. The site also features photos of students working on grocery bags. Participants are invited to submit images for this year and to e-mail project reports to the activity's coordinator, Mark Ahlness.

Decorated Grocery BagYou Will Need:

How to:

Selecting the theme

Before you start, think about something you can do to help preserve our environment. There are many positive environmental themes you can illustrate. Following are some suggestions. Use one of them as the inspiration for your design or picture, or think of one yourself.

General themes
  • Earth Day, everyday
  • Save our Earth
  • Happy Earth Day!
  • Support Greenpeace
  • World Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources
  • Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, etc.
Animal Rights
  • Animals have rights, too!
  • Biodiversity and Wildlife:
  • Preserve our Wildlife
  • Buy recycled paper Use recycled products
Electric Vehicles
  • Get a charge from electric vehicles!
  • Save our natural resources
  • Turn out the lights
  • Turn off the water
Global Change
  • Walking is good for you and the environment
  • Ride your bike to reduce pollution
Land Preservation, Forests and Parks
  • Put trash in its proper place
  • Don't litter
  • Support green spaces
  • Preserve farm land
Oceans and Rivers
  • Keep our rivers, oceans, and streams clean
  • Buy kenaf
  • Save the rainforests, save the animals!
  • Rethink, reduce, reuse, recycle
  • Support your recycling center
  • I recycle
Toxins, Pesticides
  • Buy organic farm products
  • Recycle food scraps to make compost
  • Compost is good for your yard and garden
  • Eat more veggies. It's good for Mother Earth!
  • Walking and riding are good for you and Mother Earth (bike riding)
  • Plant a tree for Arbor Day Trees give us oxygen!

Some additional topics to research and illustrate:

Acid Rain Agriculture Air Pollution AlternativeTechnology
Built Environment Carbon Dioxide Coastal Ecosystems Conservation
Consumerism Coral Reefs Deforestation Desertification
Diesel Emissions Eco Buildings Eco Travel El Nino
Energy Environmentally Friendly Products Erosion Great Lakes
Greenhouse Gases Hazardous Waste and Substances Mining Natural Resources
Organic Farming and Gardening Ozone Pollution Population Growth
Renewable Energy Soil Conservation Sustainable Development Third World
Waste Management Waste Water Water Resources Wetlands
Whaling Wildlife and Nature . .

Making the art

After you've selected a theme and have your idea in mind, make a rough sketch of the wording and a design or illustration on scrap paper. Copy the design or picture onto the sack, and outline your pencil work with a fine, black marker. Color the grocery bag with one or more of the suggested art materials.

When an artist uses more than one type of art material or medium, we say the work is done in mixed media. For example, you might outline the drawing in marker and color the design or picture with colored pencils, as in the recycling example pictured above. Following are some suggestions of ways to decorate your grocery bag.

Draw a Picture

Rather than using one of the suggested themes, you may prefer to just draw and color a picture of the outdoors showing lots of green areas with grass, trees, and flowers. Show people walking and riding bikes to promote other environmental themes.

Polished Crayon

Select a theme, and include the slogan and illustrate it with a drawing or design. Outline the work with a black marker, and color the picture heavily. Polish the drawing by gently rubbing the colors with a soft rag.

Repeat Design

Divide the grocery bag into horizontal sections, and fill each space with four or more large environmental symbols or designs. Draw them over and over, filling all the sections. Outline the designs and color them. If you prefer, repeat one or more of the environmental themes such as "Earth Day, everyday" in some of the spaces.

Illustrated Words

Print an environmental slogan on the front of the bag, and illustrate some of the words by making them "look like" what they say. You may illustrate the entire word or just use one letter to get your point across. Try to keep words simple and readable. Every word in our recycling example is an illustrated word.

Rubber Stamping

Rubber stamps are available in many different designs. Find some with animals or environmental symbols like the "chasing arrows" which stand for the recycling process. Before stamping, decide if you want to make a picture or just an overall pattern. When you have a plan in mind, stamp away on the front of the grocery bag. Use markers or colored pencils to color the designs when they're dry.

Tips and Tricks:

Visit our Research and Development Department for some excellent environmental resources.

See the American Forest and Paper Association website to learn how paper may be recycled.

Here's a special Earth Day tip. The National Arbor Day Foundation is an educational organization which promotes tree care and conservation. Visit their Web site to learn more about the important role trees play in preserving

© 1998 Marilyn J. Brackney (updated 2018)

Volume 12 No. 3

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