Bags with a message

Published 8:54 am Thursday, April 23, 2009

It’s a special day set aside every year to show a love for the Earth.

Whether it’s by picking up litter, starting a recycling program or planting a tree, there’s something everyone can do to celebrate Earth Day.

But the hope for many Sibley Elementary School students, however, is to make sure these efforts happen all year, not just on Earth Day.

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“Our Earth is a beautiful place we should protect,” said fifth-grader Kaitlyn Ravlin. “Some people take it for granted it will always be here.”

To spread these eco-friendly messages of protecting the Earth, cleaning up litter and recycling, the fifth-grade students, along with all of the students in the school, decorated paper grocery bags donated by Hy-Vee with Earth Day themes.

Under the direction of fifth-grade teacher Nancy Sorlie, students in kindergarten through sixth grade decorated probably 600 bags. Then on Wednesday afternoon, a few of the students went to Hy-Vee for a few minutes to help bag groceries. The rest of the bags were given out to shoppers later in the afternoon.

The project, which has been dubbed the Earth Day Grocery Project, actually began with a third-grade teacher in Seattle. It helps spread the message that kids care about the environment and aims to increase environmental awareness and educate and empower youth to make a difference in their communities.

“I really love the Earth because it’s our home,” Ravlin said. “If we don’t have it, we couldn’t live.”

Sorlie said the Earth Day Grocery Project is one project the school does on Earth Day in addition to the outside cleanup of the school grounds.

“I think it’s one of the neatest projects I’ve ever done,” she said. “It’s something we all need to think about.”

This year, the students are tying in the Earth Day themes with messages of the upcoming AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project kickoff in May.

Student Sam Moyer decorated his bag with an illustration that would show what would happen if people didn’t protect the planet.

There would be polluted waters, polluted air and less oxygen in the air, he said. Plants would die, people would die and animals would die.

“I would like to make sure the earth doesn’t die,” he said. “People should try as hard as they do for Earth Day every day.”

Student Zach Romer said for him this means making sure to clean up and to recycle and to not cut down trees so animals have places to live.

Student Sara Rasmussen’s bag talked of helping to save the Earth.

“If we help save our world, it would help with peace and happiness,” Rasmussen said.

People should not litter in the streets or in the lake, and they should clean up litter if they see it, she said. They should also recycle glass, plastic, paper and cardboard.

“It’s really important,” she said. “It will help save our lives and help save animal’s lives.”

Earth Day, which is celebrated in the United States every April 22, was founded by U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson in 1970.