It’s no secret that plastic is wreaking havoc on our wildlife.
We’re sure you’ve heard the horrifying statistics: 95% of packaging is discarded after a single use; 85% of Australian seabirds are affected by plastic pollution; by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic, by weight, than fish.
Those are some pretty scary facts. But as a conservation charity that exists to save species from extinction, it’s up to organisations like us to do something about it. Across both Monarto Zoo and our sister zoo Adelaide Zoo, we’re proud to be working towards reducing our environmental footprint and are always on the lookout for new ways to lessen plastic’s impact on the planet.
Here’s just some of the things we’re doing to make the world a cleaner place:
Ban the balloon
While they might look pretty to us, discarded balloons are regularly mistaken by sea turtles for their preferred snack of jellyfish and marine birds often collect the plastic remnants as they skim the ocean’s surface in search of fish. Thankfully, balloons have not been permitted at either Adelaide or Monarto Zoo for over a decade now, meaning fewer dangerous single-use items are entering our waterways and harming our wildlife.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
One of the greatest ways to reduce how much plastic ends up in landfill or polluting the environment is to simply create and throw out less in the first place. We work closely with our waste management partners to make sure all plastics and plastic products discarded on site are properly sorted, recycled or reused according to type, eliminating the need for new materials and ensuring plastics are manageable for South Australia’s recycling facilities.
Ditch the habit
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, of which Zoos SA is a proud member, is encouraging at least 50% of its over 250 zoo and aquarium members from all over the world to eliminate, or start the process of eliminating, the consumption of single-use plastics by 2023.
In accordance with this fantastic initiative, we recently conducted an organisation-wide plastic audit to identify where we use single-use plastics and in what quantities. From keeping staff and vet teams to catering and our finance department, we identified every single piece of plastic used by everyone at Zoos SA. If we’re being honest, we were overwhelmed with the sheer amount of plastic we found during the audit – over 800 types of plastic items were recorded.
But instead of losing hope, these findings make us more determined than ever to tackle the plastic problem. We’re now in the process of using this data to make decisions about what plastic items are really needed, what can be swapped for a sustainable alternative and how we can measure our plastic elimination progress into the future.
Bye bye plastic sleeve!
If you’re a Zoos SA annual member, you may have noticed the last edition of Zoo Times was delivered wrapped in paper rather than plastic. And with over 40,000 members receiving our biannual magazine, that’s a lot of plastic not ending up in landfill!
What you can do
Luckily, there are a number of super easy things you can do to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics. From taking your own reusable bags to the shops and following recycling instructions correctly to refusing plastic straws and remembering your keep cup, there’s always something you can do to ensure our rubbish doesn’t end up as a snack for animals!
You can also start buying food in bulk, lessening the amount of packaging you’re bringing home – especially if you purchase those bulk foods in your own produce bags. And don’t forget the power of using your voice! If one of your favourite products comes wrapped in unnecessary or unsustainable packaging, call or email the retailer and let them know you’d love to see a more sustainable alternative.
Not sure how to get started? We sell a range of reusable products at our Zoo Shops, including produce bags, bulk food bags and keep cups.