The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden wants YOU to kick your single-use plastic habitat as part of a global “Plastic Free July” challenge. Plastic items like grocery bags, straws and coffee cups are creating huge ecological harm, especially in oceans and other aquatic habitats. This includes our streams, rivers and lakes in Oklahoma where plastic trash is a common sight.
As of July 1, the Zoo’s 145-member “Plastic Free July” team is in 12th place out of 633 zoos and aquariums across the world competing to get the most eco-points during the month-long event. The challenge, previously limited to employees of the competing organizations, is now open to the public and awards eco-points to participants for using less plastic, recycling, switching to reusable items and for pledging to make other eco-friendly changes. Sign up to join the OKC Zoo team at plasticfree.ecochallenge.org/teams/oklahoma-city-zoo.
“Small actions add up to big impact – one person choosing to refuse a straw or a plastic grocery bag might not make a difference, but a collective, organized group of people changing their behavior will tremendously benefit the world,” said Rebecca Snyder, OKC Zoo curator of conservation and science. “Raising awareness of the environmental harm associated with single-use plastics and empowering individuals to take action is the goal of the ‘Plastic Free July’ challenge and one that the Zoo supports unequivocally.”
In 2018, the OKC Zoo team refused 900 straws, 927 plastic bottles, 871 pieces of plastic cutlery, picked up 2039 pieces of litter, prepared 177 zero waste meals, signed 22 petitions and volunteered 36 hours to clean up plastic waste. Collectively, the Zoo joined over 5,000 colleagues from zoos and aquariums across the country and refused 35,383 straws, 28,166 plastic bottles, 37,174 pieces of plastic cutlery, picked up 56,758 pieces of litter, prepared 9,827 zero waste meals, signed 2,212 petitions, volunteered 2,672 hours to clean up plastic waste and contacted 844 public officials to discuss concerns about plastic waste.
“Plastic Free July” is a key initiative of the Plastic Free Foundation that allows it to work toward its mission of seeing a world free of plastic waste. From humble beginnings in 2011, the award-winning “Plastic Free July” campaign is the result of years of hard work. It was started by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz (the founder of the Plastic Free Foundation) and a small team in local government in Western Australia, and is now one of the most influential environmental campaigns in the world. Millions of people across the globe take part every year, with many committing to reducing plastic pollution far beyond the month of July. New items available from Safari Gift Shop, located in the OKC Zoo entry plaza, help make achieving this goal easy and fun!