Every year on the third Monday of January we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Not only does it commemorate the great Civil Rights leader’s birthday but also brings people together to participate in a day of service to their community in his honor. At Adventure Aquarium, we not only look to help our community on the local level but also on a global scale through our awareness programs and conservation efforts. These initiatives are not solely held on one day, but throughout the calendar year.
One way Adventure Aquarium is able to make a difference in the community is through the Fins for the Future conservation program. The Fins for the Future committee, made up of a group of staffers who work at the Aquarium, are committed to serving the local and global community by providing real opportunities for people to get involved and to make positive changes to the environment. We identify opportunities for people to help people; to promote environmentally friendly and socially responsible business decisions into daily practice; and inspire the conservation of our natural world.
At a recent meeting, a new initiative was introduced by Fins for the Future to Adventure Aquarium staff: A Simple Change.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Think of it this way. What if each one of us did one thing every day with the health of the environment in mind? What if we brought a reusable bag to the store instead of using a plastic bag? What if we declined that plastic straw in our drink at a restaurant? Refilled our Brita and used a reusable bottle instead of reaching for a plastic bottle of water at Wawa? The compound effect over time could be dramatic, couldn’t it? It most definitely could. A Simple Change launches in 2016 with the focus on reducing single plastic use products into the environment and we are starting right here with Adventure Aquarium’s staff.
Here are just a few of the super simple and easy initiatives that have begun in 2016, spearheaded by Fins for the Future.
Thirsty? Before you grab a bottle of water…
This one is super easy. Instead of using plastic water bottles, we encourage filling up a reusable container.
In 2015 alone, we removed 3,840 plastic bottles from the Delaware River during our River Sweeps. By making this tiny change, you’ll not only save money by not buying each water bottle (hello extra cash in your pocket!) but you’ll also take part in removing them from our environment. Now that’s a win-win, right?
Sip, sip from your straw? Wait a minute.
Now this one is, once again, really easy to do. You might not realize it when you ask for a straw while eating out or drop one in your favorite beverage at home but that’s a tiny piece of plastic that’s going to be used once and tossed out. Over a thousand straws were pulled during our River Sweeps last year – if we thought before we sipped, think about how that number could decrease!
Instead, grab a silicone straw like these pretty blue/green combos from a cool company called Greenpaxx. They are dishwasher safe and have NO BPAs, Pthalates or PVC. That’s a pretty awesome sipping utensil, huh?
It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.
Speaking of utensils, how often do we grab those little plastic forks for our lunch? Think about every person doing the exact same thing for just one week and that one fork starts multiplying quickly.
Adventure Aquarium’s break room is now offering compostable utensils called Patra Eco-Dinnerware instead. Our staff is now using these cute forks, knives and spoons instead of plastic which means we are able to reduce our plastic production. Made from fallen palm leaves, these little babies are 100% compostable. The coolest part? We are partnering with our neighbor, the Camden Children’s Garden, to add to their compost which will go right back to the garden’s mulch! We are so excited to partner up to help our local environment.
Plastic Bag, plastic bag…
One-time use plastic bags are THE WORST. The average time a plastic bag is used is 12 seconds. It takes 10-20 years for it to break down. 12 SECONDS vs 20 years! By making the effort to keep reusable bags in our cars and bring them along for groceries and other shopping trips, we can really make a difference.
Not only are plastic bags used for such a crazy short amount of time, but if they’re not disposed of properly, i.e. not recycled and end up in our rivers and oceans, aquatic animals like sea turtles and others fishy friends mistake them for jellies, which are a source of food for them. They can’t tell the difference and eat them, leading to injury and often even death. (Not OK). If we all thought before we shopped, think of the difference we could make!
Yes, sometimes it’s tough to avoid using a plastic bag – we totally get that. Adventure Aquarium staff began a recycling program in 2015 which will continue this year (yay, recycling!). By properly recycling plastic bags and film, we can help remove them from the environment. Pretty cool.
Microbeads are what now?
OK, this one is simple and a no-brainer. Would you willingly put little pieces of plastic in your mouth and potentially ingest them? Didn’t think so. Microbeads are found in some toothpaste, face wash and other personal care products and are completely cosmetic. Meaning they don’t really do anything beneficial besides look like little specks of blue on your toothbrush. Silly but true. If something has polyethylene listed in the ingredients, there’s microbead plastic lurking in your product. We at AAQ are pledging to stop purchasing these products now, which will no longer be produced in a few years thanks to recent legislation signed by President Obama. That’s a win! This brings us another step closer to plastic-free oceans!! #MotherEarthGoals
We’re excited to begin our “A Simple Change” program within Adventure Aquarium’s own staff. You should feel free to participate as well by making these simple, small steps to produce big changes over time. This is a New Year’s resolution that you can totally keep!
Stay tuned…we’ll have blog posts focusing on more Fins for the Future initiatives coming up this year that will let you know what we’re up to, including FrogWatch 2016, more River Sweeps, tree plantings and more!
Happy #MLKDay2016! Let’s make it a good one, folks!