Beardsley Zoo reduces single-use plastic waste

In an effort to reduce the amount of plastic waste, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo announced last week that the Peacock Café has replaced its plastic straws with paper straws, and has replaced single-use plastic food containers and utensils with more sustainable options.

Food containers are now 100% biodegradable. Providing sustainable solutions is in keeping with the Zoo’s commitment to wildlife and conservation efforts, including an active role in protecting the environment, according to zoo staff.

Assistant Guest Services Manager Peter Gordon has been challenged to find sustainable alternatives to plastic products at the café — an ongoing effort that will result in additional future changes. Gordon located sustainable sources for food containers and implements: to-go boxes made of 100% biodegradable sugar cane, sandwich boxes made of biodegradable cardboard, Made-in-America paper straws, and wooden coffee stirrers. Plastic utensils have been replaced with a bioblend utensil that is manufactured with 30% less plastic.

“Especially for a conservation-focused organization like the Zoo, eliminating single-use plastic waste whenever and wherever we can is an important step toward being better stewards of the earth,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “Single-use plastics are a source of land and sea pollution that cause the death of birds, marine mammals and sea turtles. We’re proud of the first steps we’ve taken to be part of the solution.”

The National Park Service estimates that Americans throw away 500 million single-use plastic straws every day, enough to fill 125 school buses a day, or 46,400 buses a year. Plastic refuse often ends up in the ocean: 8 million tons of it each year, by United Nations estimates. The UN has challenged organizations and individuals to be part of its #cleanseas campaign.

Gordon commented, “My challenge was to eliminate as much plastic as possible, and this is a significant step forward. We’ll continue to search for new ways to be good caretakers of animals and the planet.”

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