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Sustainability in action: First graders explore plastic alternatives at Edwards grocery store

First graders from Edwards Elementary share their Earth Day passion with a field trip to Village Market in Edwards

Store Manager Charlie Spurgeon, left, explains the produce department Monday to first graders from Edwards Elementary School. The students learned about how the store tries to be environmentally friendly while interviewing customers and gathering data on who uses reusable shopping bags.

It’s never too young to generate a passion for the environment and Earth. To prove it, first graders from Edwards Elementary School on Monday visited Village Market in Edwards as part of a unit based around Earth Day. On Monday morning, the students got the opportunity to learn about the earth-friendly shopping choices from the Village Market store manager. They also conducted their own research on what sustainable practices shoppers were employing.

One major component of their Earth Day unit is studying the use of plastic and the effect of microplastics on the environment, particularly on the oceans, according to Cherie Rollins, a first grade teacher at Edwards Elementary. In going to the store, one of the topics students were engaging with was the use of plastic alternatives at the grocery store.

Over the years, Village Market has adopted a number of sustainable and Earth-friendly options for its customers, according to Charlie Spurgeon, store manager at Village Market. In his 14 years at the store, Spurgeon has seen the elimination of Styrofoam and single-use plastic bags and the insurgence of compostable plastics/materials and 100 percent recycled plastic bags.



“We are constantly evaluating what we are doing as far as supply chain usage and things and certainly getting this visit prompts us to take another look at it,” Spurgeon said. “I’m glad to see the kids taking interest in this.”

Currently, the store is considering the next steps in its sustainability journey. This includes the consideration of plant-based materials and recycled paper products.



Plus, after coronavirus restrictions temporarily disallowed the use of reusable bags at the store, shoppers are now able to use their own bags again.

First-grade students interview Ellen Mitchell of Edwards outside of Village Market in Edwards. The students were gathering information on what people use to shop with.
Chris Dillmann/cdillmann@vaildaily.com

During their trip, the first graders surveyed shoppers about how often they use these reusable bags, whether or not they would support a plastic bag ban in Edwards, and whether having a reusable bag would encourage them to use it. After the field trip, students will be writing essays based on their findings and discuss ways they could educate community members about their earth-friendly shopping options.

According to Rollins, the point of this project was for students to help educate shoppers, but also to “let the community know first graders are passionate about Earth-friendly options that don’t involve plastic.”

To conclude their week of exploration, the first graders will be returning to Village Market on Friday, April 16, to give out reusable bags — donated by the store — to interested shoppers.


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