Imagine the weight of one billion elephants; that’s a hefty load, right? Well, humans have produced nearly that amount of plastic since 1950 – and almost 80 percent of this plastic has ended up in landfills or the environment. Join the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) and many others across the globe this July by participating in the 31-Day Plastic-Free EcoChallenge to help eliminate plastic waste.
The challenge features more than 65 actions participants can take to reduce their use of plastic while earning “points” and building more eco-friendly habits along the way. Don’t be discouraged by the thought of having to go completely plastic free – participants can start small by choosing to complete one simple action each day. Many of these actions require you to “choose to refuse” different plastic items. In honor of the challenge, here are six things we can easily go without on the road to becoming plastic free:
Plastic Straws. Ask your server to leave the straw out of your drink at a restaurant or bar – or bring a reusable straw with you. There are many options made from sustainable materials such as stainless steel or bamboo. A great place to bring a reusable straw with you is the Detroit Zoo! We choose to refuse plastic straws and lids for beverages at all Zoo concessions – and disposable cups are made from recycled materials.
Plastic Water Bottles. You can easily reduce single-use plastic waste by drinking beverages from a reusable bottle. During your next trip to the Zoo, bring your own bottle or purchase an inexpensive one from any of our concession stands and fill up at one of our 21 free filtered-water stations. We are keeping 60,000 plastic bottles out of the waste stream annually by no longer selling plastic single-use water bottles.
Plastic Shopping Bags. BYOB the next time you hit the market or grocery store – bring your own bag! Most stores today sell their own reusable bags at reasonable prices or you could use a tote bag you have laying around the house. Leave them in your car and have them ready to go on all your shopping trips or even when you go to the Zoo. The DZS no longer provides plastic bags for gift shop purchases; visitors are encouraged to bring their own bags or purchase wildlife-themed reusable bags at Zoofari Market, Arctic Outpost, Drake Passage Gifts or any of the souvenir stands.
Take-Away Coffee Cups. Save plastic by bringing your own reusable mug from home. Choose one made out of metal and it will keep your drinks hot or cold for longer than the plastic cups from the coffee shops.
To-Go Boxes. The next time you go out to eat and wish to bring leftovers home, refuse the Styrofoam boxes they typically provide by bringing a few reusable containers with you.
Plastic Packaging. Many foods are pre-packaged in plastic; seek out items that are free from this wrapping. For meat and seafood, find a butcher that sells unpackaged meat and bring it home in your own reusable containers. While in the produce section, refuse to use the plastic bags available for fruits and vegetables and opt instead for a reusable mesh bag.
For more information on the Plastic-Free EcoChallenge, visit https://plasticfree.ecochallenge.org/. Join the challenge today and make your start toward a #PlasticFreeLife.
Everything we do is guided by our award-winning Greenprint initiative, a sustainable roadmap we developed to continuously refine and improve our facilities and daily practices, develop new policies and programs, and improve green literacy and action in the community. To learn more about our work, visit https://detroitzoo.org/about/greenprint-sustainability/.