Written by: Katie Murray
Environmental experts estimate there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently in our ocean, with millions of tons coming from land every year. Plastic never truly degrades in the ocean, but instead continues to break down into smaller and smaller pieces that continue to add up. With Americans using an estimated 500 million plastic straws and 100 billion plastic bags each year, this is a huge problem. Disposable plastic items such as these easily end up in the ocean, where they have devastating effects on marine life. Reducing usage of all single-use plastics is a critical first step in keeping plastic out of the ocean. This is why employees here at ZooTampa are participating in the Zoos and Aquariums Plastic Free EcoChallenge and encourage YOU to join us!
The goal of the challenge is to raise awareness of the issues surrounding single-use plastic. While you can go completely plastic free, you are also encouraged to pick a few small changes you would like to make to your normal day-to-day life and log them on your EcoChallenge dashboard.
Some common lifestyle changes include:
- Refusing a plastic straw
- Bringing a reusable bag to the grocery store
- Using a reusable mug instead of to-go cups
Some people who already incorporate these into their everyday lives can choose to go a bit further and choose to do things like:
- Using bar shampoo to avoid plastic bottles,
- Writing to an official about reducing single-use plastic in your area
- Bringing a reusable container for leftovers after visiting a restaurant.
You pick the actions you’re willing to take and log them any day. There are no penalties for not participating in an action (say, if you forget your bags on your grocery trip), you simply miss out on gaining points for that day.
In 2018, ZooTampa placed 9th out of 54 teams. This year, we are aiming even higher and can use YOUR help to get there! Visit: https://plasticfree.ecochallenge.org/dashboards/teams/zootampa-friends and click “JOIN THIS TEAM”. From there you will be prompted to enter your information. Then, you will be a part of the ZooTampa organization in the ZooTampa Friends team, and will be able to choose the actions you’d like to take and start earning points starting July 1st. The ZooTampa friend with the most points by 9:00am on August 1, 2019 will receive a FREE penguin painting!* We look forward to working with you to keep plastics out of the environment!
* The penguin painting prize is being offered as a community engagement incentive for ZooTampa at Lowry Park, a not for profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization, with a company address of 1101 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa, FL 33604. Eligibility is limited to adults residing in Florida ages 18 and up. To enter, simply join the “ZooTampa Friends” team on the Plastic Free EcoChallenge website: https://plasticfree.ecochallenge.org/. No purchase or contribution is required. The following are ineligible to win: non-Florida residents, employees, contractors and volunteers of ZooTampa, persons under the age of 18. The winner of the penguin painting will be based on number of points earned on the Dashboard during the EcoChallenge, with the highest point-earner being deemed the “winner”. In the event of a tie, ZooTampa reserves the right to award prized to all tied entrants, or to conduct a drawing of the tied entrants to award the prize. ZooTampa reserves the right to make changes in the rules of the contest, including, without limitation, the substitution of a prize of equivalent value, which will become effective upon announcement or posting. Winner agrees to allow ZooTampa to publicize participant and winner names in conjunction with the contest. Tax consequences, if any, are the responsibility of the recipient. The prize is to be awarded/announced on August 1st, 2019. No cash value.