Friday, March 16, 2018

How to Participate

Here's a brief rundown on what's involved in participating in the Earth Day Groceries Project.

  1. Locate a local grocery store that uses paper bags. Explain the project to the manager, and ask if you can "borrow" enough bags so each student in your school or classroom can decorate one. 
  2. Distribute the bags throughout your school, and explain the project to classrooms who would like to participate.
  3. Give students enough time - and guidance - so they can create beautiful artwork and environmental messages on their bags.
  4. Return the decorated bags to the store before Earth Day (April 22), and ask that the store distribute the bags to shoppers on Earth Day.
  5. Send in a brief report - on the website, Facebook, or even this blog, via a comment - to share how your project went. 
That's it. You can find much more detailed information and helpful suggestions on the website at Get Started.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Brief History of the Project

(This reflection is written with a sad but grateful nod to Stephen Hawking, on his passing)


The Earth Day Groceries Project began during the infancy of the world wide web. It started out as an  email activity in the spring of 1994, but by August, 1994, it had a web site. Well, sort of.

When I decided to try and develop a website for my elementary school in the summer of 1994, there was literally just a handful of schools worldwide with websites. As a matter of fact, it felt to me as though you really wouldn't put a school on the web without being able to say what was outstanding, or unique, about it.

This graphic was on the very first website for my old school. The Project was the school's byline, its reason for being on the web. That was August 14, 1994. The Project's name still needed some work. The main content of the website was a compilation of the Project's emails, and that version of the website is preserved, and still working, here.

By October of 1994, the school website had evolved,and the project had its new name - still featured on the school website graphic  That site is archived here.

The Project remained on the school website through the 1999 school year, even running an ad, proceeds going to the cost of upgrading the Project, and to school tech needs.


For the first three years, I compiled all email reports and sent them to all participants in large email installments. When it became clear I could no longer keep up with sending hundreds of participating schools different email installments, I converted them all into web documents (coding by hand), and put them on the website.


In 2000, I moved the Earth Day Groceries Project to its current location, where it runs multiple databases to automate the adding, retrieving, and sorting of information. No more email, thank goodness. Now, if the pictures had been automated, that would have been something! More on that in another post.


The early 1990s was an exciting time to be online with other educators, exchanging ideas on educational listservs, like Ednet, and Kidsphere.

In 1993 I tried decorating grocery bags with my school, and it was a huge success. It was such a perfect, easy way to empower kids in their communities, such a great way to make a difference in environmental awareness.

I wanted other schools to join in,  to make it bigger, even make it something that belonged to my school, but I could not figure out how to do that, and somehow - control it. My wife set me straight right away when she said I simply had to share the idea. That was all. Give it away.

She was right of course, so I did just that - shared the idea. I simply acted as a facilitator for those who participated, and I provided a central location for anyone who wanted to share their stories.


Every year, I hear from several people saying their school/organization has been decorating grocery bags for Earth Day for many years, and they just learned there was a website!

This Project has legs, and it will continue to grow and spread - because it is easy, free, meaningful, and it carries a powerful message.

I hope your school or organization can join in this year. Happy Earth Day!

Mark Ahlness, founder  - The Earth Day Groceries Project

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Blog is Back!

Yes, the Earth Day Groceries Project Blog is back in business. Approaching a 25th Anniversary means you pull out all the stops!

We've always had a website, and a Facebook Page starting in the early 2000s. - but the blog hasn't been used much.

But times have changed, and this medium increases the potential reach, to many more people, so here we go.

This blog will be consistently active through the end of April, 2018, with a new post coming pretty much every day, so sign up in the "Follow by Email" spot on the side or bottom. (Mobile users,  go to  "View web version" or "Desktop"). No more than one post per day - and you can always cancel your subscription.

The goal is simply to spread the word, to encourage as many schools and organizations as possible to join in. More on that in another post.

Meanwhile, share this post as widely as you can. Many thanks!

Mark Ahlness, founder  - The Earth Day Groceries Project

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Back for 2010!

Yes, The Earth Day Groceries Project is back in 2010, to help spread environmental awareness and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day!

If you are just now connecting, head first to Four Simple Steps. Add a beautiful desktop background image to your computer:

New stuff for 2010:
  • We are now on Twitter, at Follow along there and get the latest project updates!
  • We recently started an official Facebook Page for the project. If you're on Facebook, you can become a Fan, write/contribute to the Wall and Discussions - and upload pictures! Last year we started a "group" on Facebook, but we've since figured out the best way to have the project on Facebook is with this new official page. Please consider becoming a fan and contributing there!
  • Last but not least, the project blog location has changed. The old blog still contains all the old material, but please update your rss feed or link, to
Happy Earth Day!
Mark Ahlness
project founder

Saturday, April 03, 2010

This blog has moved

This blog is now located at
You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.

For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Flickr slideshow!

If you can put your pictures on Flickr, and add them to the Earth Day Groceries Project Group, they'll appear in this slideshow:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Award Certificate Ready

The award certificate for 2009 is now ready - so sorry for the delay. It's also available as a pdf file: