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Zoo News Blog

Getting Dirty to Save Animals in the Wild

On April 26, the Houston Zoo hosted our first-ever Brew at the Zoo beer tasting event for guests 21-and-up. The event was also another first for our zoo-based conservation organization. Brew at the Zoo was our first major attempt at a full-sized zero waste consumer event. Zero waste is a goal for achieving a 90% or more diversion from landfill through reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting materials.

There are many definitions for zero waste, here at the Houston Zoo, we are beginning our zero waste journey by hosting events with a goal of zero-waste to landfill. At Brew at the Zoo, we diverted 80% of the waste from landfill through composting and recycling! This was accomplished through careful planning and communication between various departments within the zoo and our food partner SSA, as well as the composting company New Earth. We looked at the items being used throughout the event, from the souvenir beer sampling mugs, to the items food was served on, to lanyards that can be reused. While we encountered a few unexpected items in the bins, through careful sorting, we were able to ensure that as much of the waste as possible was able to be recycled and composted. The cans and glass bottles that the beer was poured from were recycled and the food items, including the utensils and cups were driven by zoo staff members to a commercial composting facility.

Why are we doing all of this? Our mission is to inspire action to save wildlife, what better way to celebrate local breweries than by saving local wildlife, like bobcats, by keeping waste out of landfills? The less space for landfills, means more space for wildlife! By recycling and composting, these materials are being given a chance to extend their usable lifespan.

Brew at the Zoo was just the beginning our our zero waste event journey. This event allowed us to look at the way we source and use products, so that at each event we will become closer to achieving our goal of zero-waste to landfill.