Audubon Nature Institute is increasing its leadership role in sustainability through making its facilities more eco-friendly and encouraging others to do so.
The Institute received 18 new recycling and trash bins through a partnership with Pepsi. The recycling side has bright colors, clear markings, will accept plastic bottles as well as aluminum cans. These bins are available in employee areas as well as recycling bins that look like Pepsi bottles at the Aquarium.
In addition, citizens can Drop off any unwanted cell phones or tablets at the Audubon Zoo’s front gate during regular hoursYou can use the site without any admission or purchase. Reusing these devices will allow for a reduction in demand for coltan, which is a mineral found within electronic devices. This will result in less destruction of gorilla habitats and central Africa’s coltan mining operations.
John Fallon, Audubon Natural Institutes Director for Sustainability and Coastal Conservation Initiativess, stated that the Institute has eliminated plastic bags and utensils from its concessions and retail outlets and replaced them with compostable and recycled materials. The Institute is also moving towards sustainable lighting. They have updated to LED lights in Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (Zoo Administration Building), Zoo parking lot, AudubonPark parking lot, Clubhouse parking lots, and Audubon riverview).
Fallon stated that our business is constantly looking for ways to make it more sustainable and eco-friendly. We find ways of reducing the costs of offering sustainable materials such as bamboo rather than plastic utensils. Some sustainability initiatives like upgraded lighting actually help us to reduce our operating costs over time. Behind-the scenes efforts are also undertaken. For example, Audubons Purchasing Policy has a section on Green Procurement to keep our business practices as environmentally-friendly as possible, and we compost waste from many of our animals to make fertilizer. Although these steps will not be visible to guests, they are an important part in the Audubon team’s commitment towards living our mission.
The Institute is a leader in education on environmental and conservation issues and is actively spreading the word about how families and individuals can live more sustainably. These are some simple steps:
- Buy local, buy usedThis reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing and shipping.
- Reduce and reuseFind ways to use less new products and buy them less often. Disposables can be replaced with reusable options. Common disposable items that can be replaced with sustainable alternatives include shopping bags and straws, water bottles, straws lunch packing supplies, coffee pods as well as rags/cloths and bath products.
- Be an environmentally-savvy shopper.Look at labels and research brands to find eco-friendly cleaning products, food, and cosmetics. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoos Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping AppShown brands that are orangutan-friendly, and which the Smithsonian National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute has certified. Online guide to Bird Friendly Certified Coffee
- Start composting at your homeTurn food scraps or yard waste into soil enrichment. This reduces trash in landfills as well as the need for chemical fertilizers.
- Make your home a wildlife sanctuary.A birdbath, bee condo, or garden are some of the options available for yard-friendly solutions. Bat house
- Make your home more energy efficientUse LED light bulbs in place of incandescent. When not in use, unplug appliances and chargers. To keep your HVAC system at its best efficiency, use a smart or programmable thermostat.
- Go paperless.Online or emailed bill statements, and payments. If possible, opt for email receipts
These steps can be taken by citizens in addition to recycling, which is one of the easiest ways to make an environmental impact. Fallon suggested that families can make recycling at their home easier by placing a recycling bin next to the household garbage bin and displaying a copy the city’s recycling guidelines nearby the bin. Recyclable items must also be washed before being put in the bin.
There are additional steps that people can take to ensure that their household recycling has the desired effect on the environment. Non-recyclable materials can cause contamination in a whole load of recyclables. It’s better to just throw away any items you don’t know about. You should not recycle anything smaller than a credit-card size, such as straws or bottlecaps, coffee pods (or paper clips), and plastic cutlery. These items are too small for recycling and can cause damage to equipment.
Fallon also pointed out that plastic bags cannot generally be recycled via curbside recycling. Some grocery stores have bags that can be collected in special bins.
He said that if you include these bags in your recycle bin, it can contaminate the whole load, which often means the load will end-up in a landfill. This includes packaging your recycling in a plastic bag, including plastic sandwich/storage bags, plastic food packaging, and bubble wrap. These materials can’t be recycled or disposed of in a way that does not harm wildlife or the environment. It is best to reduce their use and keep them out the waste stream.
Fallon said that other household items may be recycled through certain programs and not curbside recycling. Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, local shelters, and others have donation bins for clothing and dishes. Many local scrapyards will accept appliances that are not in use for steel recycling. Charities accept appliances that are functional. The City of New Orleans Recycling Drop Off Center accepts small electronics and light bulbs. You can also drop off unused electronics at certain retail stores like Best Buy and Target.
Fallon suggested that if you find yourself throwing away a lot more things than you can recycle, you should take this as a sign to make changes in your routine or to find sustainable alternatives.
Audubon Nature Institute (501(c)3) is a not-for-profit organization that manages 10 parks and museums that are dedicated to nature. Visit this website for more information. audubonnatureinstute.org.