Being conservation-minded individuals, Aquarium staff are very reluctant to throw anything away.
So over time, many of the creative ways we have found to reuse or recycle have come from a staff member taking the initiative to say, “My department uses a lot of this item. Is there something we can do with it besides throw it away?”
When the marine mammal trainers got new wetsuits, they contacted our Internal Conservation Committee (ICC), asking to help save the old ones from the dumpster. After a bit of research, the team decided to make drink cozies out of them. As a result of that project, 53 wetsuits became 575 bottle cozies, which were sold in our gift shop. In turn, we kept 92 pounds of neoprene out of landfills!
This year, another project came up in a similar way. Our annual marketing campaigns include printed vinyl banners that line the city and adorn our buildings. After every campaign has ended, the banners are pulled down and put in storage.
Recently, employees were cleaning out the warehouse when they came across stacks of banners going back many years. Once again, a diligent employee called the ICC for ideas. The colorful graphics and vinyl material inspired us to create something even bigger, tote bags!
It took a while to find the right vendor, but eventually a former Aquarium employee (and former ICC chair!) mentioned that her sister-in-law had found success in her hometown of Indianapolis upcycling old material into tote bags and selling them at farmers markets. Her name is Jen Eiler.
She has worked with many organizations including museums, markets, coffee houses (burlap coffee bean bags!) and even the Super Bowl to do just what we were looking to do with their old marketing materials!
Thus, our “banner bags” were born. We’re very excited to be able to offer these great totes to the public! If you’re looking for a great gift for your eco-conscious friends and family, we’ve got you covered.
To grab a banner bag, make sure to stop by our gift shop during your next visit!