A sea of umbrellas peppered the roads leading to Simpson Elementary Wednesday as approximately 400 students and their parents braved the elements, walking to school in the rain, in an effort to show their support for the school's first ever Earth Week celebration.
The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Committee, part of Simpson's active PTA, drummed up the idea for Earth Week, in celebration of Earth Day, April 22 to increase sustainability awareness of the students and staff.
Michelle Moebes, chair of the committee, and Mary Thomas, principal-in-training, were instrumental in planning the week long event which kicked off with a dedication and ribbon cutting of two new recycling bins.
One is a single stream recycling bin which will now allow the school to vastly increase the number of items recycled out of the school.
Cardboard, all plastics, glass, metal and all paper can now be combined into one bin for weekly pick up. Recycling containers and laminated instructions on what to recycle have been placed in each classroom to allow teachers and students to increase their recycling habits.
The second new bin is a book recycling bin, in partership with the company Better World Books. The company collects used books and textbooks through a network of over 2,300 college campuses and partnerships with over 3,000 libraries nationwide and resells them to the public (free shipping from their site).
So far, the company has converted more than 58 million books into over $10.4 million in funding for literacy and education. In the process, they've also diverted more than 40,000 tons of books from landfills.
With every book donated to Simpson's new book recycling bin, a portion of every sold book comes back to the school to support literacy programs within the school.
In addition, throughout the week, students were asked to write their ideas of how to reduce, reuse and recycle and place it into the "Unless Box" in Simpson Square (the main lobby of the school).
Mirroring the idea from the Dr. Seuss box "The Lorax," ideas from the "Unless Box" were selected and read by Simpson Elementary School's principal Bron Gayna Schmit, each morning during the morning news. Winners received reusable drink bottles.
Brenda Johnson and Cathy Nilsson, PTA Co-Presidents coordinated the Walk To School Day. Parent and student volunteers handed out stickers and Safe Routes to School bracelets to walkers.
"According to my calculations, we had approximately 400 walkers," said Nilsson. "That's incredible considering the rain we had! I saw lots of smiles; it went very well."
The week long celebration ends on Friday with the unveiling of the school's new birdhouse garden, the first of which was donated by Wild Birds Unlimited from the Forum.