20 years ago, children in American classrooms only drew pictures of the planet and animals to commemorate Earth Day. Today, ecologically-friendly activities are visceral and students fan out selling recycled paper products to help rescue wild animals and raise money for new solar panels that will power their school.
Pilgrim School in Los Angeles really knows how to celebrate Earth Day. Truckloads of recycled bathroom tissue and paper towels, compostable trash bags and non-toxic household cleaners will be delivered to their South Commonwealth Avenue school, where children will distribute the products, with bragging rights about the number of trees they saved through the sale of recycled paper.
No more selling cookie dough or pushing wrapping paper to raise money for another swing set. These kids are educating their friends and neighbors about the environmental damage and health problems that could be averted if they only started buying “green”.
“Did you know, if every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of brand-name paper towels with a 100% recycled roll, we could save one million trees,” suggests an educational banner on the school’s fundraising website, www.closetheloopnow.org.
“Did you know if every household in the U.S. replaced just one bottle of 32 oz. solvent-based glass & surface cleaner with a solvent-free brand, we could prevent 11 million pounds of Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC’s) from being released into the environment?“
The fundraiser theme, “Close the Loop”, led to awareness about the disposal of daily items as well. Classrooms talked about the “cycle” of a product’s life – from where and how it’s made to where it goes after it’s thrown away.
Not only do the Pilgrim School kids want to save trees, and cut down on plastic in landfills, their efforts will help to save animals too. Part of the money collected through the sale of green products will be donated to the local Big Bear animal rescue zoo.
To keep enthusiasm high, the art teacher constructed huge brown tree trunks that were bare until students added a green leaf for every $20 package of green product they had sold. Each Thursday morning during the weekly school assembly where the fund-raiser was launched on March 17th, the kids waited in line to place their leaves on the tree.
The bulk of the proceeds from their product sales will be used to finance four solar panels for the school’s new wing.
“You’ve come a long way, baby.“
Tomorrow, for the school’s Earth Day celebration, Solar Depot is donating a solar panel to power the music and bubble machine; 2 Councilmen will be on hand; kindergartners will fill a time capsule with their hopes and promises to the future Planet Earth; and all will revel in a grove of 50 trees, delivered to the parking lot for the day, representing the trees we can all save from paper mills.
In 2021, when the tiny children graduate from Pilgrim school as 12th graders, the capsule will be opened amid hopes that the promises they wrote today will have become visceral for more people on the planet tomorrow.
What are you doing for Earth Day? Take a lesson from the Pilgrim school.
(To learn more about these fundraising ideas, to donate a solar panel or help with next year’s fundraiser, contact Michelle Marks)