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Princess environmental principles reach halfway around the planet

Nicky Widdis

Nicky Widdis cleans up trash in the Netherlands during Princess Cruises’ annual Super Sweepers event.

Neither distance nor a 10-hour time difference kept 5-year-old Nicky Widdis from doing her civic duty last month.

Nicky is a kindergartener at Aquarian Charter School in Anchorage. She was on holiday with her family in the Netherlands when her parents received a notification about Super Sweepers, an annual trash clean up event sponsored by Princess Cruises.

“She was missing the cleanup activities at Aquarian, so she decided to do her own cleanup in the Netherlands!” said Heather Roach, Communications Specialist with the Anchorage School District. “She collected trash and litter from the neighborhood where she is staying.”

Since 2008, Princess Cruises has sponsored Super Sweepers. The program challenges students from more than 80 schools across the Anchorage School District to pick up trash with their families around their schools and neighborhoods. In keeping with the stewardship of Princess, the goal of the program is to respect the environment and reduce refuse.

The program is part of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce’s Cleanup Week, which began more than 40 years ago after Alaska experienced the largest earthquake on record in 1964. As the snow melted the following spring, residents began to pick up the trash in the aftermath of the disaster.

Today, the tradition continues. However, with a record of more than 11 feet of snow in Anchorage this winter, the event had to be postponed by two weeks (until mid-May) as residents and students waited for it to melt.

The Super Sweepers program is completely volunteer run, with parents and teachers serving as the organizers at each school. Participation varies from school to school, with some teachers integrating environmental components in to their curriculum. Students at the Rilke Schule German School of Arts and Sciences, for example, started by examining their indoor environment.

“Students pulled staples from the walls, sponged away marks from the walls and sanitized the surfaces,” Roach said. “Their cleanup culminated with a barbeque event for students and their parents.”

Older students at SAVE High School collected 203 bags of trash, filling a 40-foot dumpster. Students there took it upon themselves to don chest waders and pull trash on the banks of nearby Campbell Creek. Others, like Key Clubs or Boy Scouts, used the cleanup event at their school to meet community service requirements. This year, student activity ranged from eight to 400 students per school.

Super Sweepers volunteers collected 3,691 bags of trash across the Anchorage school district (compared 2,549 bags last year). Last year more than 800,000 pounds of debris was collected and dropped at the Anchorage landfill during cleanup week.

“This program is the perfect complement to Princess’ commitment to the environment. It not only beautifies the city for our cruise guests, but it instills pride in the next generation of citizens,” said Bruce Bustamante, Vice President of Community & Public Affairs for Holland America/Princess in Alaska.

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