Forget paper or plastic, the Houston Zoo is now asking “no bag or reusable?” in both gift shops as we go completely bag free for wildlife conservation. Zoo gift shops now allow guests to choose to be completely bag-free, purchase reusable bags or use a tote they’ve brought from home. The decision was made in unison with our third-party retail partner, Service Systems Associates (SSA).
“This is a significant step for our organization, one we hope will serve as an example for other companies,” said Peter Riger, vice president of wildlife conservation for Houston Zoo. “As a zoo-based conservation organization it’s important for us to walk the walk, and talk the talk. We are using this action specifically to highlight the need protect marine animals from debris. It also allows our guests to play a direct part in making a difference on our planet.”
This move will keep an estimated 80,000 plastic bags from entering landfills and the environment each year. There is roughly 3.15 billion pounds of plastic in our oceans right now and the average American will add to this epidemic by throwing away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year. Wildlife like endangered sea turtles and other marine creatures often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, one of their favorite foods.
“Service Systems Associates is proud to join the Houston Zoo in this sustainability initiative,” said SSA executive vice president-retail, Patrick Brown. “Our Members and guests have long proven that they care about and support programs that help save animals in the wild, and simply choosing a reusable bag is a step everyone can take. It is amazing how one little change can have such a far reaching impact.”
The Houston Zoo also has an expanding collection of canvas bags artistically designed with images depicting the animals that benefit from a reduction of plastic bags in the ocean. The series includes sea lions, sea turtles, and coming soon, pelicans.
Another Responsible Choice
The Houston Zoo serves only responsible seafood to all of the animals and people. The sea lions, otters, birds, and fish-eating carnivores enjoy seafood that is listed as “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” as set by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines. On-site food vendor Sodexo also serves only responsibel seafood options in restaurants and at special events held at the zoo. Everyone can choose ocean-friendly seafood, too! Simply download the Seafood Watch app on a smart phone and choose “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” options when shopping at the grocery store or at a favorite restaurant.